| Robert Macpherson |
WASHINGTON (AFP) – An Englishman in New York was the toast of Washington on Sunday as British pop star Sting was feted with fellow recipients of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors.
He took time off from his Broadway show “The Last Ship” to join Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks, 1970s soul man Al Green, comedienne Lily Tomlin and ballerina Patricia McBride at a gala ceremony in the US capital.
“I feel very happy in my trophy,” Sting, 63, told AFP on the red carpet going into the soiree, pointing to the rainbow-colored laurel draped around his neck.
“I’m not sure when I’ll wear it again, but I think I look rather fetching in it,” he quipped.
“It’s still pretty overwhelming. I’m dealing with it quite well.”
Bestowed by the nation’s premier performing arts institute, the Kennedy Center Honors are regarded as the highest recognition of cultural achievement in the United States.
This year’s honorees were all smiles and laughter as they took their balcony places alongside President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle in the Kennedy Center’s vast opera house.
First to be honoured was Green, 68, with funk band Earth, Wind and Fire putting the black-tie crowd in a soul-swinging groove, Usher crooning “Let’s Stay Together” and a huge chorus backing Mavis Staples and Sam Moore on “Take Me To The River”.
Earlier, on the red carpet, Green – an ordained pastor in Memphis, Tennessee who branched out into gospel music in the 1980s – called the honour another milestone in a rich career that is still unfolding.
“They give me all these great accolades and then they tell you, ‘Alright, go out and earn it’,” he said. “So we gotta keep writing and keep making songs.”
TV satirist Stephen Colbert, making his debut as a Kennedy Center Honors emcee, comically dubbed the event “the only awards ceremony in America that does not feature Taylor Swift.”
The three-hour gala is to be telecast in the United States on the CBS network December 30.