Kelly Clarkson has been a longtime fan of Reba McEntire, garnering both a friendship and familial relationship with the singer over the years. (Clarkson has been married to McEntire’s stepson Brandon Blackstock since 2013.) Because of their deep bond, it only made sense for Clarkson to be one of the few people to honor the country icon during the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday, Dec. 2.
“Thank you so much, Reba for listening to me vent as an artist,” she said just before performing “Fancy” (quote via USA Today). “Thank you so much for comforting me on the phone through my tears like a friend and thank you for being a really rad grandma for my kids.”
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She continued, “If we’re all being honest, sometimes when we meet our heroes it doesn’t always pan out how you hope, but meeting Reba, being friends with her and eventually becoming family has been one of the highlights of my life — truly.”
“The Kennedy Center Honors is a huge thrill for me. I have been a part of that show for helping four honorees getting honored, Dolly [Parton], Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett and Loretta Lynn. So to get to be a part of that behind the scenes all that many times was a lot of fun for me, and now to be honored, it is the icing on the cake,” Reba told Sounds Like Nashville and other local media at a press conference backstage at the CMA Country Christmas taping.
Little Big Town also took part in the festivities, but were on hand to perform for Kennedy Center honoree Cher. Other honorees in 2018 include pianist Philip Glass, jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter, co-creators of Hamilton—writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, and music director Alex Lacamoire.
The star-studded celebration will broadcast on CBS on Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 8 p.m. EST.