THE HEALING POWER OF THE ARTS
Last night my wife and I enjoyed watching the Kennedy Center Honors for performing arts. A quietly beautiful Caroline Kennedy welcomed all and recalled President John Kennedy's commitment to the arts for all people with his words: "I look forward to an America that will not be afraid of grace and beauty. I look forward to an America that will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft."
Honored this night were actor Robert DeNiro, who truly opened the area of acting to the truth of character and circumstance. His fellow actors and director-friend Martin Scorsese gave tribute for his work and humanity. Next, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck was honored for his music as well as his character. On stage his four sons played reprised his music as he smiled deeply from the balcony. Comedian and film and stage writer-director Mel Brooks was celebrated by his friends and audience. Carl Reiner declared Mel's wild imagination and "uncensorable mouth." Following scenes from his work all rose in applause, and Mel in his eighties was visibly moved.
Next came opera diva Grace Bumbry as old photos told her story of rising from Baptist church choir in St. Louis to perform on the stages of world opera houses. She braved prejudice with her beautiful bold voice, and as Aretha Franklin so aptly coined, she was "Amazing Grace." Finally the house roared in recognition for Bruce Springsteen and his devotion to music ranging from rock to folk to blues. As fellow New Jersey native John Stewart exclaimed, Bruce makes music of the soul of people.
For me this night confirmed my own faith in the value of the arts to our lives. And sitting beside these honored leaders was Michelle and President Barack Obama. I had not seen our struggling president so alive and vibrant since his inaugural, as he nodded and rocked with the music, laughed and smiled warmly with the film scenes, and was the first to rise in applause. Earlier he had exclaimed "The arts are not apart from our national life. The arts are at the heart of our national life." May the healing power of the arts spread.
Causes Larry Smith Supports
peace and justice, meditation