by Jackie Ward and Molly McCrea
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — San Francisco, known for its legends, natural wonders, cable cars, rolling hills and cool fog, will now also be known for a few more artists who have been recognized by the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors.
The Kennedy Center celebrates icons who have left an indelible stamp on the nation’s collective cultural consciousness, according to Chairman David M. Rubenstein.
The show was recorded last Sunday, and KPIX 5 got a sneak peek. The broadcast will be star-studded and packed with eclectic talent.
Where else would you find “Ernie and Bert” from Sesame Street on the same red carpet as the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi?
“We’re so thrilled with the honorees. This year, two of them are from San Francisco,” Pelosi noted.
“Definitely coloring outside of the lines is definitely one of my missions in life,” said Tilson Thomas.
The maestro, known as MTT, just conducted his final opening night gala with the San Francisco Symphony. He has been the symphony’s music director for 25 years.
One of MTT’s many contributions was his innovative way of engaging a modern audience. His concerts are always surprising.
Recently, he conducted the San Francisco Symphony along with the award-winning heavy metal band Metallica, at the first ever concert held at the new Chase Center in San Francisco.
“We’ve sparked off each other talking about music and ideas about life and society.” said MTT of his collaboration with the mega-group.
During Sunday’s broadcast, Metallica’s drummer Lars Ulrich will take the stage in tribute to his friend MTT.
Seated in the same balcony, and next to MTT, you’ll see 10-time Grammy award winner Linda Ronstadt.
Six years ago, Ronstadt revealed how she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She has retired from singing.
“I mean what can you do?” said Ronstadt. “We’re all going to die. So, you have to say well, you know, I had a good ride.”
During her career, Ronstadt released more than 35 albums, selling millions of copies.
Now, a new documentary called “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” has been released based on her autobiography. Ronstadt sang her last concert in 2009. But her catalog and this documentary illustrates how she is more than a pop singer. Ronstadt had sung every genre you can imagine: country, rock ‘n ‘roll, big band, jazz, opera, Broadway standards, and Mexican and Afro Cuban songs.
She has had a fascinating life and was a trailblazer for women.
“The rock ‘n ‘roll culture seems to be dominated by hostility against women,” remarked Ronstadt in the movie. “What happens is that they happen to lose the ability to focus on themselves as a person rather than as an image, you know?”
Ronstadt spoke out then, and now.
At the State Department dinner for the Kennedy honorees held last Saturday and attended by about 200 guests, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quoted Ronstadt’s song when he told the audience “As I travel the world, I wonder when will I be loved?”
Later, when Ronstadt received her rainbow-colored ribbon and medallion, she responded.
“I would like to say to Mr. Pompeo who is wondering when he’s going to be loved, when he stops enabling Donald Trump.” said Ronstadt, standing at the podium and facing the audience.
In 1993, Ronstadt sang at a memorial service in Petaluma for Polly Klaas, the young girl abducted from her home by knifepoint and murdered. The performance left everyone weeping.
During the Ronstadt tribute at the Kennedy Center Honors, there was a performance that brought the singer to tears. What’s clear to all who were present at the ceremony, it is Ronstadt who will always be loved.
The Kennedy Center Honors will air Sunday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. on CBS at KPIX