tv President and First Lady Pay Tribute to 2016 Kennedy Center Honorees CSPAN December 26, 2016 12:12pm-12:38pm EST
nancy reagan. our in memoriam program does continue with mohammed ali and john glenn. this week in the prime time on c-span. this week, washington journal will devote the entire program each day to the issues facing donald trump. our topicay morning, is energy and environmental policy. we will discuss what could be climate change. and the rules about how trump and the new congress might change immigration policy. friday morning, we take a look at the future of the affordable
care act. be sure to watch washington journal at 7:00 a.m. eastern. follow the transition of government on c-span as donald trump selects his cabinet and the republicans and democrats prepare for the next congress. we will take you to key events as they happen without interruption. watch live on c-span. watch on-demand at c-span.org and listen on the free c-span radio mobile app. and firstnt obama lady obama hosted an event for the kennedy center honorees. they included pianist martha argerich, al pacino, james
[applause] [cheers] pres. obama: thank you so much, everybody. thank you. thank you. good evening, everybody. >> good evening! pres. obama: on behalf of michelle and myself, welcome to the white house. over the past eight years, this has always been one of our favorite nights, and this year i was especially looking forward to seeing how joe walsh cleans up. [laughter] pres. obama: pretty good. i want to begin by once again thanking everybody who makes this wonderful evening possible, including dave rubenstein, the kennedy center trustees -- i'm getting a big echo back there -- and the kennedy center president.
give them a big round of applause. [applause] pres. obama: we have some outstanding members of congress here tonight, and we are honored also to have vicki kennedy and three of her grandchildren with us here. [applause] pres. obama: the arts have always been part of life at the white house, because the arts are always central to american life. that's why for the past 80 years, michelle and i have invited the best writers, musicians, actors, dancers to share their gifts with the american people and help tell the story of who we are, and to inspire what is best in all of
us. along the way, we have enjoyed some unbelievable performances. this is one of the perks of the job that i will miss. thanks to michelle's efforts, we have brought the arts to more young people, hosting workshops where they learn firsthand from accomplished artist, to bringing "hamilton" to students who would not normally get a ticket to broadway, and on behalf of all of us, i want to say thanks to my wife for having done that. [applause] pres. obama: and she has always looked really good doing it. [laughter] pres. obama: she does. [laughter] pres. obama: this is part of how we have tried to honor the legacy of president and mrs. kennedy. they understood just how vital
the arts are to democracy, that we need painting and performance to challenge our assumptions, to question the way things are and maybe inspire us to think about how things might be. the arts help us celebrate our triumphs, but also hold us to our flaws. all of that deepens our understanding of the human condition. it helps us to see ourselves and each other. it helps us to bind us together as a people. as president kennedy once said, and serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation. tonight, we honor five amazing artists who have dedicated their lives to telling their truth and helping us to see our own. at eight years old, mavis staples climbed onto a chair in church, late into the microphone, and belted out the gospel. when people heard that soul coming out of that little girl, they wept, which understandably concerned her. [laughter]
pres. obama: but her mother told her they are happy. you're singing makes them cry happy tears. it was those early appearances on the southside of chicago. southside! [laughter] [applause] pres. obama: mavis, her siblings, her father was to launched the legendary staples centers. -- staples sisters. gospel with a touch of country, a twist of the blues a little , bit of funk, a little bit of salvation.e driven by pop's reverb guitar, mavis is powerhouse vocals, and harmonies only the family can make. the sisters broken ground in sounds like open a cloudy day -- songs like "a cloudy day."driv', they had truth to tell. pops would preach his kids, if we can preach it, we can sing it.
so they wrote anthems like "freedom highway" and "when will we be paid," which became the soundtrack of the civil rights movement. mavis has worked with just about everybody, from bob dylan to prince, wrote albums like "we will never turn back" and one true vine, she is influencing a new generation of me just ends -- of musicians and fans. every note is grounded in faith and hope and the believe that there are better days yet to come. these are not just songs i am singing when moving my lips, she says. i mean this, and we mean it too. six decades on and no one makes us feel the way to like mavis staples. give her a big round of applause. [applause]
pres. obama: al pacino called the theater his flashlight. that's how he finds himself, where he sees truth. since al first hit broadway in 1960 nine, his singular talent has been the gold standard for acting. a great playwright once compared the way al inhabits his characters to the way that louis armstrong plays jazz. one director said al pacino becomes characters, and we have all seen it. in the span of five years, he became sunny, twice became michael corleone, four, let's face it, what's got to be the two best movies of all time. [laughter] pres. obama: became tony montana on screen, and then became the
owner of a couple of tonys on the stage. he has always been this way. al committed so profoundly to a role in a school play, that when his character was supposed to get sick on stage, al actually got sick on stage. [laughter] pres. obama: i'm not sure how audiences felt about that. later when he played richard iii and jackie kennedy visited him backstage, the actor playing this self-absorbed king did not stand up to greet actual american royalty, which he says he still regrets. [laughter] pres. obama: through it all, al has always cared more for his flashlight down the spotlight. he says he is still getting used to the idea of being an icon, but his gift is that he lets us into what his characters are
feeling, and for that we are grateful. al pacino. [applause] pres. obama: in the late 1960's, james taylor got the chance to audition in front of paul mccartney and george harrison. this is a true story. [laughter] pres. obama: i was as nervous as a chihuahua on methamphetamines, was what james taylor said, which is exactly the kind of metaphor that makes him such a brilliant songwriter. [laughter] pres. obama: but if james as a defining trait, it is empathy. that's why he has been such a great friend to michelle and myself. we are so grateful for him and
kim for their friendship over the years. it's why everybody from carole king to garth brooks to taylor swift collaborates with him. it's what makes him among the most prolific and admired positions of our time. james recently went through all of his songs and kept coming across the same stories, songs about fathers and traffic jams, love songs, recovery songs. i really love this phrase, hymns for agnostics. [laughter] pres. obama: he said in making music, there is the idea of comforting yourself. there is also the idea of taking something untenable and communicating it. that's why it feels like james is singing only to you when he sings. it feels like he is singing about your life. the stores he tells well on our most enduring and shared experience. "carolina on my mind" is about
where you grew up, even if you did not grow up in carolina. "angels of fenway" is just about the red sox. [laughter] pres. obama: if you like that -- if you are a red sox fan, you don't like that song, but that's ok. james is a consulate truth teller about a life they can leave us lots of questions and unsatisfying answers, but holds so much beauty that you don't mind. from his honesty about his own struggles with his substance abuse to his history of activism, james taylor has helped america live up to our highest ideals. thank you, james taylor. [applause] pres. obama: without a preschool rivalry, we might not be honoring martha argerich.
the story goes when she was two years old, a little boy taunted her saying, i bet you can't play the piano. so she tapped on the keys, remembered a piece her teacher had played, and played it flawlessly. by eight years old, she had made her concert debut. either time she was a teenager, she left argentina to study in vienna, and she won two international competitions, launching one of the most influential careers in classical music. that little boy lost his -- [laughter] pres. obama: martha combines technical prowess with passion and glittering musicianship. she does not just play the piano, she possesses it. martha can charge through a passage with astonishing power and speed and accuracy, and in the same performance on the delicate beauty in each note. as a critic once wrote, she is an interpreter whose native
language is music. but what truly sets her apart and has submitted her place as one of the greatest pianists in modern history is her commitment to her craft. in an age of superficial connections where people too often seek fame and recognition, martha has been guided by one passion, and that is fidelity to the music. she can only be herself, and that is the truest mark of an artist. the result is timeless, transcendent music for which we think martha argerich. [applause] pres. obama: and finally, there has been some interesting things said about this next group, including being called one of rock's most contentious lead is
-- contentiously dysfunctional families. [laughter] pres. obama: they called their reunion tour hell freezes over. i love that. but when you listen to the eagles, you hear the opposite story, and that is perfect harmony. you hear it in the crisp, overpowering a cappella courts of "seven bridges row," dueling guitars in "hotel california," riffs in the opening of "life in the fast lane." it is one of america's signature bands. a super group who sold more records copies in the united states than any other group in the 20th century. the 20th century has pretty good music. here tonight, we have three of the eagles, don henley, a meticulous songwriter with an unmistakable voice, timothy
schmit, the bass player and topline of many of those harmonies, and joe walsh, who is as rowdy with a guitar leg as i am told he once was in a hotel room, twice. [laughter] pres. obama: this is the white house, though. [laughter] pres. obama: michelle and i are about to leave. with that said, we want to get our security deposit back. [applause] pres. obama: but, of course, the eagles are also the one and only glenn frey. we wish he was here with us. we are honored to be joined by his wife and his gorgeous children.
the truth is these awards are not just about this reception, or even the show we had this evening, which would be spectacular. the kennedy center honors are about folks who spent their lives calling on us to think a little harder, feel a little deeper, and express ourselves a little more bravely, and maybe even take it easy once in a while, and that is glenn frey, the driving force behind a band that did not stop. we are familiar with his legacy, and the music of the eagles will always be woven into the fabric of our nation. we are extraordinarily honored to be able to give thanks for the eagles, and what is true for them is true for all of tonight's honorees, remarkable individuals who have created the soundtrack to our own lives on road trips, in jude bob steiner's, folks who have mesmerized office -- jukebox diners, folks who have mesmerized us at the movies. al pacino, martha argerich, the
eagles, their legacies are measured not just in works of art, but the lives they have touched and creating a stronger, more beautiful america. they are artists who have served our nation. before we transport ourselves to what i am sure will be a spectacular evening, please join me in saluting our extraordinary 2016 kennedy center honorees. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen.
join us tonight when some of the candidates to be the next democratic national committee chairman outline their plans at a form associated with the state democratic chairs. speakers include jamie harrison. new hampshire party chair ray buckley and keith ellison. here is a preview. my district is the fifth
congressional district of minnesota and when i first got there, my district was the lowest turnout district in the state. today it has the highest in the state. because we have invested in year, all65 days a over, everybody. young people enter new americans, we are doing the deal. that is a qualification for this job, i fulfill that criteria. i hope you take this into consideration. who is actually produced electoral success. by less thanon 10,000 votes in 2010 but more than 100,000 in 2014 because we turned out to vote. in 2008 butt by -- he won by more than 200,000 into an dust in 2014 because we turned out to vote.