Reba McEntire Receives 2018 Kennedy Center Honors Award: “I Was Born an Entertainer to Help Heal Hearts”

Reba McEntire Receives 2018 Kennedy Center Honors Award: “I Was Born an Entertainer to Help Heal Hearts”

Following in the hallowed footsteps of Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn and more, Reba McEntire was honored at the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 2.

Lady Antebellum, Brooks & Dunn and Reba’s daughter-in-law, Kelly Clarkson, performed in honor of Reba.

Sometimes when we meet our heroes, it doesn’t always pan out how you hope,” said Kelly before performing “Fancy,” “but meeting Reba, being friends with her and eventually becoming family has been one of the highlights of my life – truly.”

“I’ve been here three times before tonight,” said Reba from the stage. “Once for Dolly, once for Loretta [and] Carol Burnett, once for Lily. And I sat right over there and I thought, ‘Wow, how many people have been in this room?’ I know that I was born an entertainer to help heal hearts—by singing, by acting, by letting people laugh. I love to help people with their problems when they come into a concert. I hope that they dust their problems off their feet and come in and have a good time, recharge their batteries, and when they leave they can pick their problems up that are just a little bit lighter when they go home. That’s what I was supposed to do in this life. I’m not a political person, but being here, going back to this building in Washington, D.C., I respect and I honor the people who took their time to help us, to make this country bigger, better, for all the people across the United States—east and west, north and south. Thank you all if you’ve had any part to do with that. Thank you all very, very much. Because we’re here to entertain. We’re here to make you laugh, to make you smile. And if that heart hurts, hopefully the songs that we sing, that we were moved by when we heard them the first time, by the time we sing them and it touches your heart, hopefully it touches you enough to make a difference. I am very proud of this. This moves me beyond words. I’m very honored to be a part of this class, and a part of this idea that started many, many years ago. Thank you for this honor. Thank you for our friendship. And thank you for all the friends that I’ve made, and all the years that I’ve gotten to be a part of the Kennedy Center Honors. Thank you all with all my heart.”

In addition to Reba’s award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, the 2018 class included Cher, Philip Glass and Wayne Shorter. Hamilton co-creators Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Andy Blankenbuehler and Alex Lacamoire were honored for their “transformative work.”

The 41st Kennedy Center Honors ceremony will be broadcast on CBS on Dec. 26 at 9 p.m. ET.

photo by Tammie Arroyo,