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Santana, Billy Joel – Kennedy Center Honorees

Carlos Santana
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Highlights of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, held earlier this month in Washington, D.C., were shown last night on CBS. Among the honorees were Carlos Santana and Billy Joel.

Harry Belafonte, a Kennedy Center honoree in 1989, spoke on behalf of Carlos Santana, joking that the U.S. needs to “do something about Mexican immigration” and how the “Latino thing has arrived. It has become the new Black.” Santana’s musical tribute included Tom Morello and Juanes on “Black Magic Woman.” Later, Fher Olvera, the lead singer of the Mexican rock band Mana, joined them on “Oye Como Va.” Buddy Guy, a 2012 Kennedy Center honoree, then took the stage to represent Santana’s love of blues by doing “Hoochie Coochie Man” before turning things over to Sheila E. and Steve Winwood for “Everybody’s Everything.”

While in D.C., Carlos told us that he told President Obama and the First Lady that they “still embody the dreams and aspirations of a lot of people… I can see in their eyes that they have genuine intentions to make things better for people on the planet, not just the United States.”

2005 Kennedy Center honoree Tony Bennett spoke on behalf of Billy Joel, saying he is “no less than the poet, performer, philosopher of today’s American songbook.” Don Henley serenaded him with “She’s Got a Way” and Garth Brooks, who covered Joel’s “Shameless” in 1989, did “Allentown” and “Goodnight Saigon,” which featured a choir of military veterans that brought the audience to its feet. Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco did “Big Shot,” and Rufus Wainright chipped in with “New York State of Mind” before leading the audience in a sing-along of “Piano Man” while backed by a choir.

This year’s other honorees were jazz great Herbie Hancock, actress Shirley MacLaine and opera singer Martina Arroyo.

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