Obama was joined by First Lady Michelle to honor actor Al Pacino, gospel singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, members of rock band the Eagles, singer-songwriter James Taylor, and pianist Martha Argerich.
Stephen Colbert hosted the star-studded gala in Washington DC, and Secretary of State John Kerry doled out the medallions for one of the country’s most prestigious awards for performing artists.
Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter said Obama and Kerry have enthusiastically welcomed the honorees every year, and the honorees have been eager to spend time with them as well.
Kerry in particular went out of his way this year, flying from Rome to Washington on Saturday to attend the honors dinner before a scheduled trip to Berlin on Sunday.
Rutter noted that Obama has a ‘very personal relationship with quite a number of artists’.
‘There is a sense from many of the artists that they are fond of him and respect him and appreciate him,’ she added. ‘I think there’s some bittersweet feelings.’
Obama held an afternoon reception for the honrees in a White House East Room filled with dozens of actors, actresses and musicians.
Among those in attendance were also Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne, Jeff Goldblum, Colbert, and singers Garth Brooks and Bonnie Raitt.
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