Fender’s signature artist Merle Haggard joined Paul McCartney, Oprah, choreographer Bill T. Jones and Broadway composer Jerry Herman as honorees at Sunday night’s Kennedy Center annual Honors Gala in Washington, D.C.
Musician Vince Gill was on hand to pay tribute to Haggard, his “old friend and lifelong favorite” artist.
“His writing is not glamorous; it’s just real,” said Gill. “Hag tells it like it is. He is the poet of the common man. Through words and music, he tells his life story, which is,in many ways, America’s story – the quest for the simple things.”
Several artists then performed some of Haggard’s classic tunes: Gill and Brad Paisley performed Haggard’s “Workin’ Man’s Blues”; Kris Kristofferson and Miranda Lambert performed “Silver Wings”; Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow combined for “Today I Started Loving You Again.” Nelson then called up Kid Rock and Jamey Johnson to play “Ramblin’ Fever.”
McCartney’s tribute was kicked off by actor Alec Baldwin, followed by No Doubt performances by No Doubt of “Hello Goodbye,” “All My Lovin’” and “Penny Lane.” Dave Grohl and Norah Jones paired up for “Maybe I’m Amazed,” with Steven Tyler next rolling through versions of “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” “Carry That Weight” and “The End.” James Taylor, joined by Mavis Staples for the second verse, wrapped up the McCartney tribute with “Let It Be.”
The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has been giving out honors since 1978. The star-studded event is taped each year, but never broadcast live. It will instead air on CBS on Dec. 28. The clip below is a quick peek, however, of the annual gala.