Discussion: Kennedy Center Honors

Since 1978, the Kennedy Center Honors have recognized outstanding contributions to the cultural arts.    Presented by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, each year’s honorees attend a ceremony at the White House, and then a performance at the center honoring their work.   The president and first lady attend the performance.

This year, George Jones is among the five honorees.   He joins the elite list of country artists who have received the honor:

  1. George Jones (2008)
  2. Dolly Parton (2006)
  3. Loretta Lynn (2003)
  4. Willie Nelson (1998)
  5. Johnny Cash (1996)
  6. Roy Acuff (1991)

Given the criteria of the award, it’s no surprise that the above names have been honored.  The primary criteria is excellence, presumably over a long period of time.  Among those making recommendations this year for who should be honored were country music artists Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, and Reba McEntire.

Tonight’s question is fairly obvious.  Take a moment to think about the country legends who are still among us.

Which country artist should receive the Kennedy Center Honor next, and why?

(Not to be prejudicial to your choices, but my pick rhymes with laggard.)


  1. Is it too early for Garth Brooks to recieve this honor? Not to say that he’s most deserving based on the merit of talent (though he is quite talented), but his success is unparalled and his popularity transcends decades. He held the original ‘I-don’t-like-country-but-I-like…’ distinction.

    If not him, perhaps George Strait. George has managed to stay and expand in the country format and is among the legends of genre. Reba McEntire is a great choice as well. Aside from Merle, I think these two should earn the honor over Brooks for the sake of seniority.

  2. Blake. Why’d you open the can of worms, lmao.

    Carrie should get it in 15 years. She’ll deserve it then.

    Shania… well, we’ll let Potter take this one.

  3. I’d be open to Twain recieving one in a few years. She is the biggest selling female country artist of all time, with the biggest selling country album of all time. She’s certainly made an impact.

  4. Absolutely Haggard. I hate to be blunt about it, but he won’t be around forever. After him it’s a bit of a tough call. I can’t think of anyone else alive who quite rises to the iconic tier of those who have already been honored. If you stepped down a bit, Glen Campbell, Charley Pride, Kitty Wells, Reba and Strait would all be solid choices. It’s a shame Eddy Arnold passed, because he would have been a great pick, too.

  5. Reba!!! She deserves it. After all of these years she is by my definition the most powerful women in country music and last year was Billboard’s women of the year. Need I say more. Even they picked her, the Queen of Country.

  6. Linda Ronstadt–her musical diversity spans the entire spectrum of American popular music, including, may I add, traditional and modern country music (IMHO).

  7. You know I gotta go with Loretta’s cousin Patty!

    Ms. Loveless honored her cousin a while back at the Kennedy Center by singing a wonderful version of Coal Miner’s Daughter for her, and this CMD from Pikeville deserves to be honored as well.

    I think it’s only a matter of time, Patty’s already one of the great active veterans of Country music, a national treasure, IMO. And her voice just keeps getting even better with the years. (Patty’s voice has been described as a “mountain bred wonder” by one critic).

    She is a stalwart of Tradition, and has already contributed a legend’s share to enrich the genre. By my reckoning, Patty Loveless is the best thing to happen to Country music in her generation…But I’m just echoing music critic Thom Jurek in this, who once stated that “Loveless is the best of her generation”.

    I think Patty is already beginning to be recognized as one of our living legends, just check out all the extremely favorable reviews for Sleepless Nights, the critics are using pretty much every superlative to describe Patty and her work.

    And her legend unfolds even as she follows her heart and continues to make the music she loves.

    I believe history will vindicate her vision even further, reward her for her artistic integrity, and seal her place among the timeless ones of Country Music.

    I don’t know if Patty should receive the Kennedy Center Honors next, but very soon, she should be “standing there to be the next in line”

    She is almost there.

  8. It was absolutely criminal that the Kennedy Center never got around to honoring Eddy Arnold during his lefetime (and he lived to be 89 years 51 weeks old

    Kitty Wells
    Merle Haggard
    Barbara Mandrell
    Emmylou Harris
    George Strait
    Charlie Louvin

    would all be worthy honorees

  9. I would like to see Charley Pride get some of the recognition he so rightly deserves. He was one of the first Country Music Pioneers that helped to transcend genres and races. Also, why hasn’t anyone mentioned Tanya Tucker. Her voice is so unique and wonderful. Even though she is not recognized for it, she was also a cross-over entertainer. She is totally outspoken and she was singing way beyond her years when she was just a teenager. Taylor Swift couldn’t hold a candle to her. Those are my picks.

  10. @Bill and Dan re Eddy Arnold. Eddy was nominated two times and black-balled by the voting committee each time. I was involved with the second nomination and promotion and could never get answers as to why they didn’t want Eddy in. He certainly met all the criteria. By the time of his second nomination, Roy Acuff, Willy Nelson and Johnny Cash had been inducted.

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