Saturday, December 29, 2012

And the Honorees Should Be: Part 10. Kennedy Center Honors Suggestions

The only known photograph of David Letterman treating a woman with respect.

It's now been ten recommendations of Kennedy Center Honorees that I've made.  So far, only one, Dustin Hoffman, has been selected.  Yep, it's a pretty lousy record, but here's hoping that next year I'll have a bumper crop.

For my part, I remain undaunted, and I really want to end this series.  Therefore, my newest batch of potential Honorees (to perhaps the surprise of those at the Kennedy Center, I did manage to find at least one Hispanic, something they insist they haven't been able to do since 2002). 

Emanuel Ax
Emanuel Ax has been a passionate proponent of more contemporary composers along with the standards.  His masterful piano playing is still studied, especially by his students at the Julliard.  Ax continues to perform and inspire with his virtuosity on the keys.

David Bowie

David Bowie no longer performs, which is a real shame given his long and varied career in music.  From the Ziggy Stardust persona right on down to his more commercial work, Bowie has constantly reinvented himself to be a singer/songwriter that continues to influence succeeding generations.

Moreover, his acting career has been quite remarkable, from The Man Who Fell to Earth to Labyrinth right down to The Prestige, where his performance as Nikola Tesla was shamefully ignored by the Academy.  Musically and artistically, David Bowie has created a great body of work worthy of recognition.

Monserrat Caballé

Monserrat Caballé no longer has the voice she once had, but in her prime the power of her soprano was unequalled.  Caballé is one that I am placing more by virtue of her reputation since I'm not an opera expert, but having heard some of her recordings, Caballé's voice is one that had a great beauty and power, never overpowering while still maintaining a clarity not often achieved in the rarified world of opera.

Keiko Matsui

Keiko Matsui is a bit of an oddity: a Japanese jazz fusion virtuoso.  She blends music into something uniquely her own which can bridge so many genres: jazz, New Age, world, even pop or rock.  Matsui's artistry with the piano has earned her the respect and admiration of fans of music.  Not just jazz music (although she usually is placed in the jazz category), but in music overall.

Rita Moreno

Here's that fabled Hispanic that I really think will be honored next year.  There will be probably some clown who will say that Rita Moreno receiving a Kennedy Center Honor will be tokenism rewarded, but a look at her career shows she EARNED every accolade she's received.

Let's see: there's that Oscar (Best Supporting Actress: West Side Story), that Tony (Best Featured--Supporting--Actress in a Play: The Ritz), those Emmys (Outstanding Guest Actress: The Rockford Files and The Muppet Show), and that Grammy (The Electric Company Album).  Oh yes, there's that little bit of being a pioneer for other Hispanics.

I think that should be enough for her to be a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2013 without a quota.

Bill Murray

Bill Murray is best described as eccentric, perhaps mercurial, but let's not also forget extremely talented and respected.  Coming from the original Not Ready For Primetime Players on Saturday Night Live, Murray has carved a great career on screen.

From his much-imitated turn in Caddyshack (a film every guy knows) to Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, and What About Bob?, he's moved on from straight comedies to more nuanced roles in such films as Lost in Translation and the films of Wes Anderson: Rushmore, The Royal Tennebaums, and Moonrise Kingdom.

Franco Zeffirelli

Franco Zeffirelli has done so much to popularize Shakespeare with his film versions of Romeo & Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, and Hamlet.  His television miniseries of Jesus of Nazareth is still viewed and admired for the respectful and dramatic telling of the life of Christ, and Zeffirelli has become a highly respected opera director both for the stage and film.

That now wraps up ten essays of artists in film, television, stage, dance and music of all types from classical to opera to country to rock that would in my view make worthy recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors.   Whether they will be heeded is up to them, but somehow I fear we will be seeing these artists ignored in favor of others, such as...

Who wouldn't want a musical tribute from the Funky Bunch?

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