Monday, February 1, 2010

And the Honorees Should Be: Part 2. Kennedy Center Honors Suggestions

*August 2023 Update: As I no longer follow the Kennedy Center Honors, I am at a loss as to wonder why I ever bothered to begin with. As I revisit past KCH posts, I take the opportunity to correct any grammar or spelling errors.

Well, this year's Kennedy Center Honors have come and gone. Who will be next year's recipients? I'm guessing most Americans won't actually care, which is a shame because we have so much artistic and creative output to be proud of. Still, here again I offer five new names for consideration, in alphabetical order. Granted, some of these named may have declined, but in case not, here are some suggestions.

Shirley Caesar
Born 1938
While Mahalia Jackson may have a stronger claim to the title the Queen of Gospel, I doubt many will put up much resistance to Bishop Shirley being the Grand Duchess. Putting aside her influence within the gospel world, we should remember that her vocal style have had an impact on R & B, jazz, pop and even blues performers. Everyone from Janet Jackson to Whitney Houston to Mariah Carey owes something to Dame Shirley. 

Gene Hackman
Born 1930
Gene Hackman has an everyman quality that has made his characters believable regardless of genre. This is coupled with Popeye Doyle in The French Connection. Lex Luthor in Superman. Coach Doyle in Hoosiers. Two Oscars and a powerful force on screen, Hackman was (and I'd argue is) not a star but an actor who knows what he's doing on the screen. He brought an extraordinary quality to his portrayal of honest cops and master super-villains, intense military officers and wicked sheriffs. I believe that quality is called, "talent".

Mary Tyler Moore

She more than turned the world on with her smile. She's proven herself a first-rate actress. Her eponymous television show was among the greatest, but see her turn in Ordinary People and see if there isn't more to her than Mary Richards. Looking at other performances, primarily on television, she's proven her range in both drama and comedy. Yes, she may be Laura Petrie or Mary Richards to two or more generations of viewers, but what she also is an extraordinary talent.

Peter O'Toole

Few actors have shot out into film history on their debut. Peter O'Toole did. For argument's sake, let's say there was never another film in his career after Lawrence of Arabia. Wouldn't that have been enough to have made him a legend? Still, look over his various performances in My Favorite Year, The Ruling Class, The Lion in Winter, Becket, The Last Emperor. He's still very much in the game and he would say, as his shamefully overlooked performance in Venus proved. Alas, one of the greatest actors of his generation is also one of the last to keep working. The highs and lows of O'Toole's career make for fascinating viewing. 

George Strait
Born 1952

There are musicians, then there are artists, then there are legends. There can be however, only one King. That would be George Strait. His career has been built on only one thing: to make the best country music around. He does it so well, Strait has become synonymous with traditional country. There are many pretenders to the throne, but he's showing no signs of ever abdicating.  His influence over two generations of country artists is undisputed.

These are only five that I could come up with. More to come in the future. Hey, guys at the Kennedy Center, as the song says, "Hey, look them over".

*February 2021 Update: Peter O'Toole died on December 14, 2013 at age 81. Mary Tyler Moore died on January 25, 2017 at age 80. As of this date, none of the following have been recognized. Tom Hanks, who has been honored, is 4 years younger than George Strait, the youngest suggested performer, who is 64 as of this writing.

*August 2023 Update:  As of this update (August 3, 2023) none of the other names current living have been Kennedy Center Honors recipients. Led Zeppelin, LL Cool J, "the creators of Hamilton", the television show Sesame Street, Garth Brooks (who is a decade younger than Strait), Amy Grant, U2 and Queen Latifah, however, all have. 

1 comment:

  1. I like these people that you put for the honorees. I still can't believe that Peter O'Toole hadn't won an academy least from what I've heard. I agree with you 110% with you when it comes to George Strait. Almost every upcoming Country artist has been influenced by him.


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