Gladys Knight paid homage to country icon Garth Brooks during the 43rd Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday, June 6.
The Empress of Soul truly put her signature vocals on full display with a performance of Brooks’ “We Shall Be Free,” a song that was released in August 1992 as the first single from Brooks’ album, The Chase. Knight put a unique gospel spin on the popular country track, which Brooks and the rest of the audience thoroughly enjoyed.
Brooks was seen with his right hand raised in praise towards the iconic gospel singer, as if he was in church.
“I like that song,” Knight told Brooks as she exited the stage.
Kelly Clarkson, Jimmie Allen and James Taylor 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, James Taylor, 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+.