Kelly Clarkson nearly brought Garth Brooks to tears with her heartfelt performance of “The Dance” during the 43rd Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday (June 6) evening.
The vocal powerhouse had Brooks holding back tears, alongside his wife Trisha Yearwood, with her soulful rendition of Brooks’ popular 1990 hit, “The Dance,” a song Clarkson previously admitted she related to very much throughout her divorce from Brandon Blackstock during Brooks’ appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show earlier this year.
“So I’m going through a divorce and there’s been like a lot of books and people always give you stuff to help, especially when you have kids and stuff,” Clarkson previously shared. “And there’s so much shame and guilt. I couldn’t quite nail down the feeling, Like you don’t want to crap on it, like, you don’t want to say that [relationship] doesn’t count or matter, but you don’t know what to put in it because it didn’t work out like you wanted. So, anyway, I kid you not, I was listening to my playlist and ‘The Dance’ came on. And I was like, ‘No, that’s the thing. That’s it.’”
“Congratulations Garth, I love you,” Clarkson told Brooks, who gave Clarkson a standing ovation and tipped his hat to her after her chill-inducing performance.
Click above to watch Clarkson’s tribute performance to Brooks.
James Taylor, 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, James Taylor, 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+.