WASHINGTON, D.C. - Though the Kennedy Center Honors induction was held earlier this month in Washington, D.C., the ceremony was broadcast on CBS last night, so the world could share in the celebration. Among the honorees was Long Island’s own singer/songwriter Billy Joel, and News 12’s Elisa DiStefano was there.
It’s considered the nation’s highest honors for the arts. And even though Joel has won many awards in his career, he says this one is different.
“This one is different. This one is an award from the nation in Washington, D.C., the Capitol,” says Joel. “I'm an American, I love this country - to get an honor like this it's a little overwhelming."
Newsday’s music critic Glen Gamboda says, “This is the biggest honor that America gives out to its performers. It's the equivalent of knighthood in England and the Legion of Honour in France; it doesn't get any bigger than this."
During the ceremony, Joel sat in the audience with the president and first lady. Surprise guests, including Tony Bennett and Garth Brooks, sang his songs and his praises on stage.
“All I have to do is just watch,” says Joel, of the night. “I’m watching other people work tonight. I’m used to working and now I have to watch other people work.”
Joel was not the only one recognized at the Kennedy Center. Carlos Santana and actress Shirley MacLaine were among the others honored in D.C.