James Taylor’s Kennedy Center Honors Performance Of “The River” Had Garth Brooks Crying Happy Tears

James Taylor paid tribute to Garth Brooks during the 2021 Kennedy Center Honors.

The 2016 honoree, 6x GRAMMY-award winner, Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer honored Brooks on Sunday, June 6, with an impressive performance of Brooks’ fan-favorite pop country ballad. His fiery performance had Brooks out of his seat fanning himself with his black cowboy hat as tears streamed down his face behind a blue face mask.

“The River” was released in April 1992 as the fifth and final single from Brooks’ album, Ropin’ the Wind.

Kelly Clarkson, Jimmie Allen and Gladys Knight also gave tribute performances to Brooks during the event.

The 43rd Kennedy Center Honors celebrated honorees Garth Brooks, Joan Baez, Dick Van Dyke, Debbie Allen & Midori and featured tribute performances from Sturgill Simpson, Rhiannon Giddens, Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kelly Clarkson, Gladys Knight, Jimmie Allen, Derek Hough, Laura Osnes, Aaron Tveit, Pentatonix, Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, Adele Anthony, Hilary Hahn, Randall Goosby and Midori’s Orchestra Residencies Program.

Additionally, the 2-hour awards ceremony included a star-studded list of presenters, including Jackson Browne, Phoebe Bridgers, Tom Morello, Bradley Cooper, Jason Aldean, John Travolta, Wayne Gretzky, Julie Andrews, Bryan Cranston, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Chita Rivera, Steve Martin, Gustavo Dudamel, John Lithgow, and Bette Midler.

Hosted by Gloria Estefan, the 2021 Kennedy Center Honors aired on Sunday, June 6 at 8/7c, exclusively on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

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