The Kennedy Center at 50

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The Kennedy Center at 50

Echoing "An American Pageant for the Arts," the 1962 event conducted by Leonard Bernstein, this special celebration and re-launch of live, in-person performing arts in America will be hosted by six-time Tony Award® winner Audra McDonald and feature the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO).

AIRED: October 01, 2021 | 1:25:58
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TRANSCRIPT

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♪ ♪

♪ HENRY: I was born by the river, ♪

♪ in a little tent. ♪

♪ And oh, just like that river I've been running ever since. ♪

♪ It's been a long. ♪

♪ A long time coming. ♪

♪ But I know a change gonna come. ♪

♪ Oh, yes it will. ♪

♪ It's been too hard living. ♪

♪ But I'm afraid to die. ♪

♪ I don't know what's up there. ♪

♪ Beyond the sky. ♪

♪ It's been a long. ♪

♪ A long time coming. ♪

♪ But I know a change gonna come. ♪

♪ Yes it will. ♪

♪ I go to the movie. ♪

♪ And I go downtown. ♪

♪ Somebody telling me. ♪

♪ You can't hang around. ♪

♪ It's been a long. ♪

♪ A long time coming. ♪

♪ But I know, a change is gonna come, yeah. ♪

♪ Then I go to my brother. ♪

♪ Hey. ♪

♪ And I say, brother, can you help me please? ♪

♪ But he winds up, knockin' me. ♪

♪ Hey, knockin' me, knockin' me right down on my knees. ♪

♪ Please. ♪

♪ There were times when I thought I couldn't ♪

♪ Last for long. ♪

♪ Oh! ♪

♪ But now I think I'm able, to carry on. ♪

♪ It's been a long. ♪

♪ A long time coming. ♪

♪ But I know a change gonna come. ♪

♪ Yes, I know it's been a long time coming. ♪

♪ But a change is gonna come. ♪

♪ Yeah! ♪♪♪

(audience applause).

ANNOUNCER: Please welcome your host,

six-time Tony Award winner,

Ms. Audra McDonald.

(audience applause).

McDONALD: Good evening.

It's my honor to host this 50th Anniversary Celebration

of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The Center is so many wonderful things.

It's a home to world class performing artists

from around the globe.

It's a powerhouse of education where the arts

illuminate our understanding of the world.

And it is a living memorial to one of our greatest presidents,

a man profoundly shaped by his own love for the arts.

We're on sacred ground tonight,

ground made sacred by the artists who have walked these

halls for the last 50 years and it's alive in

the music of our next artist.

Joined by violinist Ray Chen,

Dianne Reeves and Christian McBride.

(audience applause).

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

REEVES: Whoo!

(audience applause).

♪ ♪

♪ REEVES: Yeah. ♪

♪ What good is melody? ♪

♪ What good is music ♪

♪ If there is nothing in it ♪

♪ To be sweet? ♪

♪ It ain't the melody. ♪

♪ It ain't the music. ♪

♪ There's something else that makes ♪

♪ The tune complete. ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah. ♪

♪ It don't mean a thing, all you got to do is sing. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah. ♪

♪ It makes no difference if it's sweet or hot. ♪

♪ Just give that music everything you've got. ♪

♪ It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah. ♪

♪ It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing. ♪

(scatting).

♪ It don't mean a thing, all you got to do is sing. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-bie doo-bah. ♪

♪ It don't matter if it's sweet or hot. ♪

♪ Just give that rhythm everything you've got. ♪

♪ It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing. ♪

(scatting).

(tapping).

♪ ♪

(tapping)

♪ ♪

♪ Don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah. ♪

♪ It don't mean a thing, all you got to do is swing. ♪

(scatting).

(scatting).

♪ Don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah. ♪

♪ Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah. ♪

(scatting).

♪ Doo-ah, yeah! ♪♪♪

(audience applause).

McDONALD: With a new take on a Broadway classic,

here is Emmy and Golden Globe winner Darren Criss,

with "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Misérables."

♪ ♪

♪ CRISS: I dreamed a dream in times gone by. ♪

♪ When hope was high and life worth living. ♪

♪ I dreamed that love would never die. ♪

♪ I dreamed that God would be forgiving. ♪

♪ Then I was young and unafraid. ♪

♪ And dreams were made and used and wasted. ♪

♪ There was no ransom to be paid. ♪

♪ No song unsung, no wine untasted. ♪

♪ But the tigers come at night. ♪

♪ With their voices soft as thunder. ♪

♪ As they tear your hope apart. ♪

♪ As they tear your dreams to shame. ♪

♪ She slept a summer by my side. ♪

♪ Filled my days with endless wonder. ♪

♪ She took my childhood in her stride. ♪

♪ But she was gone when autumn came. ♪

♪ And still I dream she'll come to me. ♪

♪ That we will spend the years together. ♪

♪ But there are dreams that cannot be, yeah. ♪

♪ And there are storms we cannot weather. ♪

♪ Hmm. ♪

♪ I had a dream my life would be. ♪

♪ So different from this hell I'm living. ♪

♪ So different now from what it seemed. ♪

♪ Now life has killed the dream I... ♪

♪ Dreamed. ♪♪♪

(audience applause).

McDONALD: Tonight, we're going to get a taste of

American folk music and enjoy the great contemporary

work that it has inspired.

To get us started, here are longtime friends

of the Kennedy Center.

Chris Thile, Chris Eldridge, Paul Kowert, Noam Pikelny,

and Gabe Witcher.

Punch Brothers!

THILE: 1, 2... 1, 2, 3, 4!

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Rise up, blinking in the sun. ♪

♪ Wrapped in invisible wire. ♪

♪ Like something beautiful's gonna come. ♪

♪ Out from underneath our thumbs. ♪

♪ So let freedom vibrate, not ring. ♪

♪ 'Cause we can't listen to everyone. ♪

♪ Wanna hear ourselves sing. ♪

♪ My oh my, what a wonderful day. ♪

♪ We're having, we're having. ♪

♪ Why, oh why, are we looking for a way. ♪

♪ Outside it, outside it. ♪

♪ ♪

♪ I see the green grass below. ♪

♪ I feel the warmth of the spring. ♪

♪ Is it beautiful, maybe not, maybe so. ♪

♪ But oh, if it keeps us singing. ♪

♪ My oh my, what a wonderful day. ♪

♪ We're having, we're having. ♪

♪ Why, oh why, are we looking for a way. ♪

♪ Outside it, outside it. ♪

♪ How long, oh Lord, can you keep the whole world. ♪

♪ Spinning under our thumbs? ♪

♪ Spinning under our thumbs? ♪

♪ Spinning under our thumbs? ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ PRICE: Little birdie, little birdie. ♪

♪ Come sing to me your song. ♪

♪ Got a short time to stay here. ♪

♪ A long time to be gone. ♪

♪ Little birdie, little birdie. ♪

♪ What makes your wings so blue? ♪

♪ It's nothing but that old grievin'. ♪

♪ Grievin' over you. ♪

♪ Little birdie, little birdie. ♪

♪ What makes you fly so high? ♪

♪ Well, I know that my little lover. ♪

♪ Is a-waiting in the sky. ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Well, I'd rather be in deep darkness. ♪

♪ Where the sun don't never shine. ♪

♪ Than for you to be another one's darling. ♪

♪ And to know that you'd never be mine. ♪

♪ Well, I'd rather be a little birdie. ♪

♪ Sailing over the deep blue sea. ♪

♪ Than for to be a married girl. ♪

♪ With a baby on my knee. ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Well, a married girl sees trouble. ♪

♪ Single girl sees none. ♪

♪ You've caused me so much sorrow. ♪

♪ Lord, you caused me to do wrong. ♪

♪ Fly down, fly down, little birdie ♪

♪ Sing to me your song. ♪

♪ O, sing it now while I'm with you. ♪

♪ I can't hear you when I'm gone. ♪

♪ ♪

♪ O, sing it loud while I'm with you ♪

♪ I can't hear you when I'm gone. ♪♪♪

(audience applause).

McDONALD: Over the decades, the Kennedy Center has brought

the best of American and World Theatre to its stages.

Tonight, we've invited Broadway's best to celebrate

the Kennedy Center's rich legacy of theater to offer a

little Sondheim, and a healthy dose of Leonard Bernstein.

♪ ♪

♪ O'HARA: Let me see the world with clouds. ♪

♪ Take me to the world. ♪

♪ Out where I can push through crowds. ♪

♪ Take me to the world. ♪

♪ A world that smiles with streets ♪

♪ Instead of aisles. ♪

♪ Where I can walk for miles with you. ♪

♪ Take me to the world that's real. ♪

♪ Show me how it's done. ♪

♪ Teach me how to laugh, to feel. ♪

♪ Move me to the sun. ♪

♪ Just hold my hand ♪

♪ Whenever we arrive. ♪

♪ Take me to a world where I can be alive. ♪

♪ Let me see the world that smiles. ♪

♪ Take me to the world. ♪

♪ Somewhere I can walk for miles. ♪

♪ Take me to the world. ♪

♪ With all around ♪

♪ Things growing in the ground. ♪

♪ Where birds that make a sound are birds. ♪

♪ We shall see the world come true. ♪

♪ We shall have the world. ♪

♪ I won't be afraid with you. ♪

♪ We shall have the world. ♪

♪ I'll hold your hand ♪

♪ And know I'm not alone. ♪

♪ You shall have the world to keep ♪

♪ Such a lovely world we'll weep. ♪

♪ We shall have the world forever ♪

♪ For our own. ♪♪♪

(audience applause)

♪ ♪

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♪ ♪

♪ ♪

(music ends)

(audience applause)

McDONALD: If these walls,

if these halls could talk, they would tell you that

legendary artists like our Artistic Director for

Hip Hop Culture,

Q-Tip, Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Queen Latifah,

The Roots and Kennedy Center Honoree

LL Cool J have transfigured these spaces.

Then there are the geniuses about to take

the stage tonight.

Please welcome five-time Grammy award winner and

founding Kennedy Center Hip Hop Culture Council member

Robert Glasper,

Grammy nominated rapper D Smoke,

DJ Jahi Sundance, Burniss Travis and Marcus Gilmore.

(audience applause)

D SMOKE: My name is D Smoke and I'm from a beautiful place

called Englewood, California and this song is about

choosing love over hate no matter what life

throws your way.

Clap with me.

♪ Hate ain't worth a dollar, ♪

♪ And a lie ain't worth a cent, so. ♪

♪ What you workin' for, who you represent? ♪

♪ Hate ain't worth a dollar, ♪

♪ And a lie ain't worth a cent, so. ♪

♪ What you workin' for, who you represent? ♪

♪ Listen. ♪

♪ What if what you believe don't agree what you perceive. ♪

♪ On a beach with bikinis, tattoo's and lust. ♪

♪ Havin' trust is a reach like Abdul Kareem. ♪

♪ Life on your heels, a pair of Louboutin's. ♪

♪ Louis Vuitton make good fuel for thieves. ♪

♪ Project livin', government assistance. ♪

♪ Knife in your sheath don't cut through the cheese. ♪

♪ Made the blaze trails and cut through the leaves. ♪

♪ Stuck to my dream, like you beneath. ♪

♪ Missionary, it's a scary leap. ♪

♪ Prison carry many buried seeds. ♪

♪ Mother Mary, son done made a visionary. ♪

♪ I had to kick her belly to see feet. ♪

♪ Past is black and out of stock. ♪

♪ It's bound to style, ♪

♪ To put food up family tree, preach. ♪

♪ I keep some leaf for all my visitors. ♪

♪ I offer dranks too, too. ♪

♪ They roll they leaf and slur their sentences. ♪

♪ That there be dank too. ♪

♪ Listen ♪

♪ But what's the price we pay for common sense? ♪

♪ What's the price we pay for common sense ♪

♪ Or that grain we go against? ♪

♪ What's the price we pay for common sense? ♪

♪ What's the price we pay? ♪

♪ Common sense ain't common. ♪

♪ You can clap during this part, yeah. ♪

♪ Listen. ♪

♪ Some people act unimpressed. ♪

♪ Still got a price on my head, ♪

♪ For playing my position. ♪

♪ Half of my heart been misdirected. ♪

♪ Other half need direction. ♪

♪ But I halfway listen. ♪

♪ Do-re-mi, faithfully. ♪

♪ But lately I hate to see the patience it ♪

♪ Be takin' me to sit still. ♪

♪ Would it kill me to follow his will? ♪

♪ Apologize, spoke too soon. ♪

♪ Arrows aiming at an open wound. ♪

♪ Arrows aiming at an open wound. ♪

♪ December rain in the heart of June. ♪

♪ I keep some tree for all my visitors. ♪

♪ Offer them drinks too, too. ♪

♪ They roll their leaf and slur their sentences. ♪

♪ That there be dank too. ♪

♪ But what's the price we pay for common sense? ♪

♪ What's the price we pay for common sense? ♪

♪ Or that grain we go against? ♪

♪ What's the price we pay for common sense? ♪

♪ What's the price we pay? ♪

♪ Yeah. ♪

♪ We can clap one more time. ♪

Once again, it's about the light and what's going on.

Choosing love over hate.

And there's no one greater to express that than

the great Robert Grasper.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

(music ends)

(audience applause).

McDONALD: Please welcome the legendary Keb'’ Mo'’

and Christian McBride.

MO: 3, 4...

♪ ♪

♪ MO: Aw Black Betty bam-a-lam. ♪

♪ Jump steady Black Betty bam-a-lam. ♪

♪ Aw Black Betty bam-a-lam. ♪

♪ Look-a-yonder Black Betty, bam-a-lam. ♪

♪ ♪

♪ Lil' thang went blind, bam-a-lam. ♪

♪ Said it wadn't non o' mine, bam-lam. ♪

♪ Oh, what about it Black Betty? ♪

♪ Bam-a-lam. ♪

♪ Whoa Black Betty bam-a-lam. ♪

(scatting).

♪ ♪

♪ Look-a-yonder Black Betty, bam-a-lam. ♪

♪ Jump steady Black Betty, bam-a-lam. ♪

♪ Run around Black Betty, bam-a-lam. ♪

♪ Turn around Black Betty, bam-a-lam. ♪

♪ Watch out, whoa ♪

♪ Said aw Black Betty, bam-a-lam. ♪

♪ Hey Black Betty, bam-a-lam. ♪♪♪

(audience applause).

McDONALD: The art of education is central to everything

that happens here at the Kennedy Center.

Young and not-so-young, we come through these doors to

experience something new, to be challenged,

to learn, to grow.

And that spirit of learning also extends outward.

The American College Theatre Festival was launched

before the building even opened and now serves

nearly 1,000 schools across the country.

All of it inspires new artists and new audiences.

Here to give you a taste of the Center's family

programming are NSO Artistic Advisor Ben Folds and

Education Artist-in-Residence Mo Willems.

(audience applause).

FOLDS: Thank you.

Hello. My name is Ben Folds and I play punk music

on the piano.

WILLEMS: My name is Mo Willems and I write

books for illiterates.

FOLDS: So, this is a song from a symphonic exploration

of Mo's book

"Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs"

which was composed and orchestrated by me.

WILLEMS: It features a Papa Dinosaur, a Mama Dinosaur,

a Dinosaur who just happened to be visiting from Norway,

and a poorly supervised little girl named Goldilocks

who realizes something.

FOLDS: If you ever find yourself in the

wrong story, leave.

WILLEMS: So, here to sing that sentiment is the

World Premiere performance.

Gaby Moreno and Tony Yazbeck,

joined by conductor Thomas Wilkins and

the National Symphony Orchestra.

Please enjoy.

(audience applause).

♪ ♪

♪ MORENO: I opened my eyes. ♪

♪ A stage, random costars. ♪

♪ Given a name. ♪

♪ And a mind that's all my own. ♪

♪ But lately this play, it's not me. ♪

♪ I'm sorry dear writer dude it's time to leave. ♪

♪ The pen please. ♪

♪ I will write my own... ♪

♪ Story. ♪

♪ YAZBECK: Can I tell you a secret? ♪

♪ I've never been to Norway. ♪

♪ MORENO: Why did you say you had? ♪

♪ YAZBECK: I don't know. ♪

♪ BOTH: I guess I wanted to fit in. ♪

♪ MORENO: We can never rewrite the past. ♪

♪ BOTH: Oh but the future, that's still up for grabs. ♪

♪ MORENO: But from here on. ♪

♪ BOTH: You will write your own... ♪

♪ Story. ♪

♪ MORENO: I don't need dinosaurs no matter how much... ♪

♪ BOTH: Pudding they have. ♪

♪ Friends who eat friends are not friends. ♪

♪ They are just not my scene. ♪

♪ They're just... ♪

♪ Mean. ♪

♪ MORENO: Just a pen. ♪

♪ YAZBECK: And a page. ♪

♪ BOTH: I opened my eyes, now I see. ♪

♪ I'm sorry dear writer dude it's not for me. ♪

♪ MORENO: From now on I will write my... ♪

♪ YAZBECK: From now on I will write my own... ♪

♪ BOTH: We will write our own... ♪

♪ Story. ♪♪♪

(audience applause).

McDONALD: Please welcome Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear

whose collaboration has been playing out in

real time before a TikTok audience of millions.

♪ ♪

♪ BARLOW: What a beautiful party. ♪

♪ I'm looking up at the ceiling a lot. ♪

♪ The chandelier is so sparkly. ♪

♪ You never said sorry. ♪

♪ Guess you forgot or. ♪

♪ Maybe you're not sorry at all. ♪

♪ But a beautiful evening. ♪

♪ I want to know just what the hell are you thinking. ♪

♪ Oh so stoic emotionless over us all so, quickly. ♪

♪ What am I missing? ♪

♪ I can't even drink champaign. ♪

♪ No, without seeing your face. ♪

♪ Am I the one to blame? ♪

♪ When we're dancing in the same room you're an ocean away. ♪

♪ CRISS: What a terrible soirée. ♪

♪ With terrible people pretending they're happy. ♪

♪ In this masquerade. ♪

♪ We go through the motions when all that we wish is escape. ♪

♪ From the choices we make and I see her smiling. ♪

♪ How can she be smiling? ♪

♪ There's been no reconciling. ♪

♪ And when she's at my focus she won't even notice my gaze. ♪

♪ How can she be okay? ♪

♪ BOTH: When I can't even drink champaign. ♪

♪ No, without seeing your face. ♪

♪ Am I the one to blame? ♪

♪ When we were dancing in the same room but you're ♪

♪ an ocean away ♪

♪ ♪

♪ BOTH: Forget the ache of yesterday and why don't we go ♪

♪ Dancing in the rain? ♪

♪ I know you think that I should change. ♪

♪ But nothing in the world could sway my way. ♪

♪ When I can't even drink champagne. ♪

♪ Dancing in the same room, but you're a ocean away. ♪

♪ You're an ocean away. ♪

♪ CRISS: You're an ocean away. ♪

♪ BOTH: I can't even drink, ♪

♪ I can't even drink champagne. ♪

♪ No, without hearing your name. ♪

♪ Am I the one to blame? ♪

♪ BARLOW: When we're dancing in the same room ♪

♪ CRISS: But you're an ocean away. ♪♪♪

(audience applause).

McDONALD: Central to the Kennedy Center's mission is

its commitment to classical music.

Embodying that mission is the Center's dedication to

classical dance and its long relationships with

the Washington National Opera and the

National Symphony Orchestra.

Tonight the NSO and conductor JoAnn Falletta are joined by

Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor at Large and

world-renowned soprano, Renee Fleming,

performing Rachmaninoff's "Spring Waters."

♪ ♪

♪ FLEMING: Yeshcho v polyakh bileyit sneg. ♪

♪ A vodï uzh vesnoy shumyat. ♪

♪ Begut i budyat sonnï breg. ♪

♪ Begut i bleshchut, i glasyat. ♪

♪ Anye glasyat va fsye kantï. ♪

♪ Vesna idyot, vesna idyot. ♪

♪ Mï maladoy vesnï gantsï. ♪

♪ Ana nas vïslala fpyerot. ♪

♪ Vesna idyot ♪

♪ Vesna idyot! ♪

♪ I tikhikh, toplïkh maiskikh dnyey. ♪

♪ Rumyanï, svyetlï kharavot. ♪

♪ Talpitsya vyesyela ♪

♪ Za nyey... ♪♪♪

(audience applause).

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(music ends)

(audience applause)

McDONALD: President Kennedy once said,

"Genius can speak in any tongue and the world will hear

it and listen."

But geniuses need a stage,

a place to be heard, and an audience prepared

to be transformed.

The Center's Social Impact Team,

led by the brilliant Marc Bamuthi Joseph,

yes indeed, has the distinct mission to support

the work of anti-racism within the organization and

far beyond it.

This means that the Center is deeply invested in the

local arts scene as well as the national one.

It means that emerging cultural leaders are given

opportunities to grow and thrive.

(audience applause).

JOSEPH: Some questions of value.

What if dignity were currency...

And our business model depended on spinning the

capital of dignity into the capital of finance?

What if when we said equity we didn't mean equity like,

everybody's in the house, we meant equity,

like what you have when you own your house.

Invested in inclusion to produce equity

for diverse communities,

which probably means more than putting on

shows or producing symbols, though the matter of black

life itself is controversial, surely black dignity couldn't

be cause for alarm.

What if all this dis-ease was a prompt for an

entrepreneurial re-frame, like,

the explosion of crypto as currency,

what if we treated the art of cultivating dignity

as an intentional economy.

If the product were empathy,

and you had to make it and you had to

make it mass accessible,

what raw materials would you use?

What if dignity were currency and the raw material

to make it was culture?

What if you worked at a cultural mint and you printed

white walls and bright lights and the aesthetic

sublime 80% of the time,

but 20% of every dime was spent minting cultural

equity for the historically left behind?

Equity not like proportional balance,

equity like profit on your P&L balance,

who in this country is manufacturing empathy,

just a little bit,

and in the end wouldn't we all benefit?

What if dignity were medicine, were a vaccine,

and the public and private sector teamed up to invest in

our collective healing and our country's cultural mints were

the place where anybody could get pricked with

a sharp edge of culture,

a chemical boost, included us all,

cuz we've just learned that if I'm healthy and you're sick,

I'm at risk.

Why risk emerging from this moment in a culturally

unhealthy way?

Why put a cultural inflection point to waste?

What if you were making a city?

How many great artists does it take to make a great city?

How many artists does it take to make America great?

If you had equity stakes in empathy,

who would you invest in first?

In the eco-system of cultural production what if we all win

if we all win.

What if we all didn't have to win,

we just all remembered when the world was sick,

and collective healing was something we were

all invested in?

What if nobody got left behind?

What if we healed forward? Cardinal directions?

Truth? Dimension? Humanity? Access?

Latitudes of public imagination?

Longitudinal public policy?

X-Y-Z axis?

Access the ancestors?

Call their names.

Map the future collective dignity.

The moral compass...

Invest in the road forward.

Use culture as brick and walk the walk.

Walk the walk.

(audience applause).

♪ ♪

♪ LaVETTE: I gave you all of my love. ♪

♪ But you treated me like a fool. ♪

♪ I even gave up right for wrong. ♪

♪ Just trying, trying to get along with you. ♪

♪ When I wanted to hold you close. ♪

♪ You were always too tired. ♪

♪ Or you had some place to go. ♪

♪ Listen daddy. ♪

♪ GROUP: Walking out that door. ♪

♪ LaVETTE: Walking out that door. ♪

♪ GROUP: Telling you goodbye. ♪

♪ LaVETTE: Telling you goodbye. ♪

♪ I can't take it no more. ♪

♪ GROUP: Oooooh. ♪

♪ LaVETTE: It's your time to cry. ♪

♪ GROUP: Oooooh. ♪

♪ LaVETTE: Oh it's your time to cry. ♪

♪ Oh, I tried staying with you. ♪

♪ Just because of our little kids. ♪

♪ But you still wouldn't do right. ♪

♪ You leave home early in the morning. ♪

♪ I wouldn't see you no more 'til late, late, ♪

♪ late at night. ♪

♪ Although I still love you. ♪

♪ I'm afraid this is the end. ♪

♪ I just can't afford to make that same mistake again. ♪

♪ Listen to me closely. ♪

♪ GROUP: Walking out that door. ♪

♪ LaVETTE: Walking out that door. ♪

♪ GROUP: Telling you goodbye. ♪

♪ LaVETTE: Telling you goodbye. ♪

♪ I can't take it no more. ♪

♪ It's your time to cry. ♪

♪ Oh, it's your time to cry. ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ GROUP: It's your turn to cry... ♪

♪ It's all over... ♪

♪ LaVETTE: It's over. ♪

♪ GROUP: It's your turn to cry... ♪

♪ It's all over... ♪

♪ LaVETTE: It's over. ♪

♪ GROUP: It's your turn to cry... ♪

♪ It's all over... ♪

♪ LaVETTE: You leave home early in the morning. ♪

♪ I wouldn't see you no more 'til late, late, ♪

♪ late at night I'll tell you. ♪

♪ GROUP: It's your turn to cry... ♪

♪ It's all over... ♪

♪ LaVETTE: I don't even want to hear the telephone ring. ♪

♪ It's over. ♪

♪ GROUP: It's your turn to cry... ♪

♪ It's all over... ♪

♪ LaVETTE: It's over. ♪

♪ GROUP: It's your turn to cry... ♪

♪ It's all over... ♪

♪ LaVETTE: It's over. ♪

♪ GROUP: It's your turn to cry... ♪

♪ It's all over... ♪

♪ ♪

(audience applause).

ANNOUNCER: Please welcome the First Lady of the United States,

Dr. Jill Biden.

BIDEN: President Kennedy told the nation what he believed

would be our legacy.

He said, "I am certain that after the dust of centuries

has passed over our cities, we, too,

will be remembered, not for victories or defeat in

battle or politics, but for our contribution

to the human spirit. "

Those words were spoken at

"An American Pageant for the Arts".

A show much like tonight's,

that would help launch this very institution.

And 50 years ago, in his memory,

the Kennedy Center became our nation's most prestigious

cultural home and a living monument to his

life and vision.

For half a century, the Kennedy Center has been a home

to symphonies and sculptures, the blues and ballet,

paintings and poets.

Americans and world travelers from all walks of life have

come through these doors and found themselves

reflected back.

Day by day, the Kennedy Center grows and gives.

It teaches and transforms, continuing a conversation of

the human spirit, connecting us to the past,

present, and future.

Giving us a language that transcends the borders and

battles of our time.

The arts lift our eyes above the fray and heal the

fractures of our heart.

Reminding us that our differences are precious and

our similarities infinite.

May the Kennedy Center continue to inspire, challenge, and

unite us all for years to come.

Thank you.

(audience applause).

McDONALD: Please welcome Emmy,

Oscar and Grammy Award-winning artist,

founding Kennedy Center Hip Hop Culture Council Member,

Common.

COMMON: Hip-hop has been the voice of Black and Latino kids

since it began.

So I use hip-hop to honor the ancestors,

our present day and our future.

Black America again.

♪ Here we go, here, here we go again. ♪

♪ Trayvon'll never get to be an older man. ♪

♪ Black children, they stole and looked over them. ♪

♪ Robbed of our names and children, stole again. ♪

♪ Who stole the soul from black folk? ♪

♪ Same man that stole the land from Chief Black Smoke. ♪

♪ And made the whip crackle on our back slow. ♪

♪ And made us go through the back door. ♪

♪ And raffle black bodies on the slave blocks. ♪

♪ Now we slave to the blocks, on 'em we spray shots. ♪

♪ Leaving our own to lay in a box. ♪

♪ Black mothers' stomachs stay in a knot. ♪

♪ We kill each other, it's part of the plot. ♪

♪ I wish the hating will stop. ♪

♪ War, war! ♪

♪ And the battle with us. ♪

♪ I know that Black Lives Matter, ♪

♪ and they matter to us. ♪

♪ These are the things we gotta discuss. ♪

♪ The new plantation, mass incarceration. ♪

♪ Instead of educate, ♪

♪ they'd rather convict the kids. ♪

♪ As dirty as the water in Flint, the system is. ♪

♪ Is it a felony or a misdemeanor? ♪

♪ Maria Sharapova making more than Serena. ♪

♪ It took Viola Davis to say this. ♪

♪ The roles of the help and the gangstas is really all ♪

♪ they gave us. ♪

♪ We need Avas, Ta-Nehisis, and Cory Bookers. ♪

♪ The salt of the Earth to get us off of the sugar. ♪

♪ And greasy foods; I don't believe the news. ♪

♪ Or radio, stereotypes we refuse. ♪

♪ Brainwashed in the cycle to spin. ♪

♪ We write our own story, black America again. ♪

♪ MAN: You know, one way of solving a lot of problems ♪

♪ that we got. ♪

♪ Is lettin' a person feel that they're important. ♪

♪ And a man can't get himself ows ♪

♪ who he is and be proud of what and who he is. ♪

♪ And where he come from, and where he come from. ♪

♪ COMMON: Hot damn, black America again. ♪

♪ Think of Sandra Bland as I'm staring in the wind. ♪

♪ The color of my skin, they comparing it to sin. ♪

♪ The darker it gets, the less fairer it has been. ♪

♪ The hate the hate made, I inherited from them. ♪

♪ But I ain't gon' point the finger. ♪

♪ We got anointed singers, ♪

♪ like Nina, Marvin, Billie, Stevie. ♪

♪ Need to hear them songs sometimes to believe me. ♪

♪ Who freed me: ♪

♪ Lincoln or Cadillac? ♪

♪ Drinkin' or battle raps? ♪

♪ Or is it Godspeed that we travel at? ♪

♪ Endangered in our own habitat. ♪

♪ Them guns and dope, man, y'all can have it back. ♪

♪ As a matter of fact, we them lab rats. ♪

♪ You build the projects for, ♪

♪ now you want your hood back. ♪

♪ I guess if you could rap, you would express it too. ♪

♪ That PTSD, we need professionals. ♪

♪ You know what pressure do, ♪

♪ it make the pipes bust. ♪

♪ From schools to prison, y'all, they tryna pipe us. ♪

♪ Tell your political parties invite us. ♪

♪ Instead of making voting laws to spite us. ♪

♪ You know, you know we from a family of fighters. ♪

♪ Fought in your wars and our wars. ♪

♪ You put a bother in Star Wars, maybe you need two. ♪

♪ And then, maybe then we'll believe you. ♪

♪ See black people in the future. ♪

♪ We wasn't shipped here to rob and shoot ya. ♪

♪ We hold these truths to be self-evident. ♪

♪ All men and women are created equal. ♪

♪ Including black Americans. ♪

♪ MAN: You know, you know, you know. ♪

♪ One way of solving a lot of problems that we've ♪

♪ got is lettin' a person feel that they're somebody. ♪

♪ And a man can't get himself together until he ♪

♪ knows who he is. ♪

♪ And be proud of what and who he is and ♪

♪ where he come from. ♪

♪ COMMON: We write a new story for America ♪

♪ for all mankind. ♪

♪ Yeah. ♪

♪ WONDER: We are rewriting the black American story. ♪

♪ COMMON: Yes. ♪

♪ WONDER: We are rewriting the black American story. ♪

♪ COMMON: Kennedy Center. We writing a new story. ♪

♪ WONDER: We are rewriting the black American story. ♪

♪ COMMON: Rob Glasper, yeah. ♪

♪ Yo, a new story. ♪

♪ WONDER: We are rewriting the black American story. ♪

♪ COMMON: Jahi, yeah, yo, a new story. ♪

♪ WONDER: We are rewriting the black American story. ♪

♪ COMMON: My man Marcus Gilmore. ♪

♪ A new story. ♪

♪ WONDER: We are rewriting the black American story. ♪

♪ COMMON: Burniss Travis. ♪

♪ A new story. ♪

♪ WONDER: We are rewriting the black American story. ♪

♪ COMMON: My name is Common. ♪

♪ We come to write a new story. ♪

♪ WONDER: We are rewriting the black American story. ♪

♪ We are rewriting the black American story. ♪

♪ COMMON: We do this in the spirit of Trayvon Martin. ♪

♪ Rekia Boyd. ♪

♪ Sandra Bland. ♪

♪ Breonna Taylor. ♪

♪ George Floyd. ♪

♪ Emmett Till and so many others we honor. ♪

♪ God bless. ♪

♪ WONDER: We are rewriting the black American story, yeah. ♪

♪ ♪

(audience applause).

McDONALD: Please welcome Tony Award-winning playwright

David Henry Hwang.

HWANG: So the gifts of the Kennedy Center are,

indeed, far reaching.

We've also heard tonight about the Center's celebration

of great work from the past and its commitment to

build on that work.

Composer Jeanine Tessori and I set out to do something

like that with our collaboration "Soft Power".

It takes a hard look at the role Asian and

Pacific Islander Americans can

play to address the challenges facing our nation today.

In the show's finale we rededicate ourselves to

the grand experiment of Democracy itself.

I hope you'll join me in welcoming my beloved

colleagues and friends,

Kelly Marie Tran and the original cast

of "Soft Power."

(audience applause).

♪ TRAN: So many times it's left me battered and bruised. ♪

♪ Disillusioned, in pain. ♪

♪ Feeling I've been used. ♪

♪ I swear I'll give it up, before it ♪

♪ Downright kills me. ♪

♪ Then it comes back again. ♪

♪ With promises that thrill me. ♪

♪ And I forget what I really should know. ♪

♪ And I forget that it's not just a big, big show. ♪

♪ And I dream, oh I dream, of all it could be. ♪

♪ And once more. ♪

♪ I believe, I believe, I believe... ♪

♪ In democracy. ♪

♪ Oooh, democracy. ♪

♪ Democracy. ♪

With democracy being threatened both

at home and abroad, today's artists are working to

"liberate the human mind and spirit."

For all Americans.

Here is the original New York cast of the musical

"Soft Power."

And this is America.

♪ GROUP: I was taught... ♪

♪ WOMAN: In the land of the free... ♪

♪ GROUP: I was taught... ♪

♪ MAN: To keep fighting for life. ♪

♪ GROUP: Life. ♪

♪ MAN: Liberty. ♪

♪ GROUP: Liberty. ♪

♪ WOMAN: How can I turn my back... ♪

♪ GROUP: On Democracy? ♪

♪ And I forget what I really should know. ♪

♪ I forget that it's not just a big-big show. ♪

♪ Still I dream. ♪

♪ MAN: Still I dream. ♪

♪ GROUP: Still I dream That our people can be. ♪

♪ MAN: They can be wise enough. ♪

♪ GROUP: Wise enough. ♪

♪ MAN: Just enough. ♪

♪ GROUP: Just enough. ♪

♪ Worthy of trust enough. ♪

♪ Kind enough, smart enough. ♪

♪ TRAN: With a big heart enough. ♪

♪ Good and grown up enough. ♪

♪ MAN: To lift us up. ♪

♪ GROUP: Lift us up. ♪

♪ WOMAN: Lift us up. ♪

♪ GROUP: Lift us up. ♪

♪ MAN: Lift us up. ♪

♪ GROUP: Lift us up. ♪

♪ MAN: Lift us up. ♪

♪ GROUP: Lift us up. ♪

♪ TRAN: And I dream. ♪

♪ GROUP: Welcome to America, welcome to America. ♪

♪ This is, this is America. ♪

♪ MAN: Look, this country's still hurting. ♪

♪ In so many ways, but we have the power. ♪

♪ GROUP: We have the power. ♪

♪ MAN: We have the power to change. ♪

♪ GROUP: I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, ♪

♪ I believe, I believe, ♪

♪ I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, ♪

♪ I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe ♪

♪ I believe, I believe, I believe... ♪

MAN: There's a saying.

"Da nan bu si bi you hou fu."

If you survive,

when you could have died, good fortune will follow.

♪ GROUP: In America. ♪♪♪

(audience applause).

(audience applause).

McDONALD: What a tribute to the vision of

President John F. Kennedy,

a celebration of all that we've accomplished in 50 years,

and a joyous look to the future.

Thanks to all who made this evening possible,

to all who made this half-century possible,

and to all who are working hard to ensure that this vital

legacy grows stronger and broader and brighter

in the years to come.

♪ ♪

♪ HENRY: One day when the glory comes. ♪

♪ It will be ours, it'll be ours. ♪

♪ Oh one day when the war is won. ♪

♪ We will be sure, we will be sure. ♪

♪ Oh Glory. ♪

♪ GROUP: Glory, glory. ♪

♪ HENRY: Oh. ♪

♪ GROUP: Glory, glory. ♪

♪ Hands to the Heavens. ♪

♪ No man, no weapon. ♪

♪ Formed against, yes glory is destined. ♪

♪ Every day women and men become legends. ♪

♪ Sins that go against our skin become blessings. ♪

♪ The movement is a rhythm to us. ♪

♪ Freedom is like religion to us. ♪

♪ Justice is juxtapositionin' us. ♪

♪ Justice for all just ain't specific enough. ♪

♪ One son died, his spirit is revisitin' us. ♪

♪ Truant livin' livin' in us, resistance is us. ♪

♪ That's why Rosa sat on the bus. ♪

♪ That's why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up. ♪

♪ When it go down we woman and man up. ♪

♪ They say, "Stay down", and we stand up. ♪

♪ Shots, we on the ground, the camera panned up. ♪

♪ King pointed to the mountain top and we ran up. ♪

♪ HENRY: One day when the glory comes. ♪

♪ It will be ours, it'll be ours. ♪

♪ Oh, one day when the war is won. ♪

♪ We will be sure, we will be sure. ♪

♪ Oh Glory. ♪

♪ GROUP: Glory, glory. ♪

♪ HENRY: Oh, glory. ♪

♪ GROUP: Glory, glory. ♪

♪ HENRY: Now the war isn't over, victory isn't won. ♪

♪ And we'll fight on to the finish, ♪

♪ And when it's all done. ♪

♪ We'll cry glory, oh glory. ♪

♪ Oh, glory. ♪

♪ GROUP: Glory. ♪

♪ HENRY: Oh, we'll cry glory, oh glory. ♪

♪ GROUP: Glory, glory. ♪

♪ HENRY: Woo-hoo. ♪

♪ COMMON: Selma's now for every man, woman and child. ♪

♪ Even Jesus got his crown in front of a crowd. ♪

♪ They marched with the torch, we gon' run with it now. ♪

♪ Never look back, we done gone hundreds of miles. ♪

♪ Dark roads, he rose, to become a hero. ♪

♪ Facin' the league of justice, ♪

♪ his power was the people. ♪

♪ Enemy is lethal, a king became regal. ♪

♪ Saw the face of Jim Crow under a bald eagle. ♪

♪ The biggest weapon is to stay peaceful. ♪

♪ We sing, our music is the cuts that we bleed through. ♪

♪ Somewhere in the dream we had an epiphany. ♪

♪ Now we right the wrongs in history. ♪

♪ No one can win the war individually. ♪

♪ It take the wisdom of the elders and ♪

♪ Young people's energy. ♪

♪ Welcome to the story we call victory. ♪

♪ The comin' of the Lord, ♪

♪ my eyes have seen the glory. ♪

♪ HENRY: One day when the glory comes. ♪

♪ It will be ours, it will be ours. ♪

♪ COMMON: The glory is ours. ♪

♪ HENRY: Oh, one day when the war is won. ♪

♪ We will be sure, we will be sure. ♪

♪ Oh, glory. ♪

♪ GROUP: Glory. ♪

♪ HENRY: Oh, oh, glory. ♪

♪ GROUP: Glory, glory. ♪

♪ HENRY: Oh, oh yeah. ♪

♪ Oh, glory. ♪

♪ Yeah. ♪

♪ When the war is won, when it's all said and done. ♪

♪ We'll cry glory. ♪

♪ Oh glory. ♪

♪ Hey, hey. Oh, glory. ♪

♪ ♪

(audience applause)

(music plays through credits)

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