The Kennedy Center Honors Award has been defined by the center as “The quintessential reward for a lifetime’s endeavor.” In 2012, the center awarded Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones the prestigious award. As the ceremony came to a close, the band Heart took the stage to perform the Led Zeppelin’s iconic composition Stairway To Heaven. As Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones watched form the balcony, Heart delivered a performance for the
ages. Perhaps the only vocalist in rock history that could match Robert Plant’s legendary vocal performance from Stairway to Heaven; Ann Wilson nailed the vocals leaving Robert Plant with tears in his eyes. The drama that unfolded that night belonged to the visuals the nation saw of the former members of Led Zeppelin reacting to Heart’s tremendous performance. The joy and pride on the face of Jimmy Page was matched by the sentimental response that Robert Plant had seemed so hard to try to disguise. The cameras also caught President Obama swaying to the music with the First Lady by his side.
Heart’s performance of Stairway to Heaven was supported by the vocals of the Joyce Garret Youth Choir. The Choirs vocal performance at the end of the song along with Heart’s amazing band, brought the crowd to their feet. It can easily be argued that it was the greatest performance of the song Stairway to Heaven by a band other than Led Zeppelin themselves.
The Kennedy Center first began giving out awards in 1978. The first awards that year were given to Marian Anderson, Fred Astaire, George Balanchine, Richard Rodgers, and Arthur Rubinstein. The awards are given out annually to artists who have made significant artistic contributions to American society. The artists are celebrated with an entire weekend of ceremonies that end with a White House luncheon and the gala performance.