Jason Aldean gushed over Garth Brooks and thanked him for paving the way in country music.
The country superstar appeared as a presenter during Sunday (June 6) evening’s 43rd Kennedy Center Honors. During his brief appearance, the “Blame It On Me” singer praised Brooks for knocking down walls and allowing artists like himself to pave their own lane in country music, blending country with rock, and it being okay.
“I’m going to let you in on something. I once told Garth Brooks when I was a kid, I had his poster on my wall, true story,” Aldean said. “Back then he was the guy and he is still is. He knocked down a lot of doors for the artists who followed him, especially performers like me who aren’t what you would call traditional. Garth not only made it okay to mix country music with rock ‘n roll, but he made it cool. It’s been an honor for me to walk through those doors, a dream come true to perform with Garth and a mind-blowing experience to call him my friend.”
Following his brief introduction, gushing over Brooks and all that he’s done for country music, Aldean introduced GRAMMY and ACM Award winner, Kelly Clarkson, for a tear-jerking performance of “The Dance.” Watch her heartfelt performance below.
“Now to performed one of Garth’s hits,” Aldean said before pausing and reiterating, “actually one of the greatest songs in country music.”
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, 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+.