The 2013 Kennedy Center Honors

On December 8, 2013, various music artists gathered to celebrate and pay tribute to five distinguished performers who received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor. Joining the celebration was then-President Barack Obama together with his wife Michelle, as well as other officials and Hollywood elites. The five honorees were Shirley MacLaine, Martina Arroyo, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, and Billy Joel.

The 36th Kennedy Center Honorees: Billy Joel, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, Shirley MacLaine, and Martina Arroyo. Photo Credits: politico.com

Among the artists who honored these inductees were Garth Brooks (who sang Joel’s hits, “Allentown” and “Goodnight Saigon”), and Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco (who sang a rendition of Joel’s “Big Shot”). In addition, Eagles lead singer Don Henley also performed a ballad honoring the distinguished artists and many more.

A Powerful and Moving Rendition of “Goodnight Saigon”

Garth Brooks singing Billy Joel’s “Goodnight Saigon” during the 36th Kennedy Center Honors. Photo screen grabbed on Youtube.

Country music star Garth Brooks was among the artists who paid tribute to the five Kennedy Center honorees. On the stage, he took and sang his favorite Billy Joel song, “Goodnight Saigon“, a powerful tune that honors the Vietnam War veterans.

Emotions then poured and heightened when some of the war veterans entered the stage and sang together with Brooks. Everyone was on their feet as well as the president and his wife, and Billy Joel himself. Some were in tears and sang along. Brooks ended the song by taking off his cowboy hat, bowing to the veterans, and pointing at Billy Joel (who was clearly happy with his performance) before leaving the stage.

In his performance, Brooks started with a mellow tune smoothly rhyming to the beat of the music. Emotional and full of spirit, he went strong with his vocals exuding the country sound that he is. The song became more powerful than that of Joel’s original take. He then hit the chorus and soared with the power and energy that moved the crowd.

Garth Brooks was overwhelmed with him performing for Billy Joel. He said:

“I’ve been very, very lucky that the three times I’ve done it now, with Billy being the third, these were all epic, iconic heroes that influenced my life and my music.”

Indeed, the entire production was heartfelt. It moved and drew the audience to tears. Truly, it was a night full of emotions and talent. But more than these, it was also a night that honored unsung heroes — our brave soldiers. With every sweat and blood that drip from our soldiers, we are freed and made strong in spirit.

Watch the powerful and emotional performance of Garth Brooks singing Billy Joel’s “Goodnight Saigon” as a tribute to the Vietnam War veterans:

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