At Sunday night’s (Dec. 8) Kennedy Center Honors event, Carrie Underwood was on the red carpet on her way into the show, and stopped to describe one of the night’s honorees Linda Ronstadt in a succinct and flawless 30-second answer.
“One of the things that I have always admired about her is her ability to do whatever she wants. She always broke the rules and sang music that she felt like was true to her,” Underwood said. “She was a chameleon. She loved music and she sang so many different kinds and genres. She wanted to sing country music, rock music, she would sing Spanish.
“She is just somebody I think the rest of us should all be more like.”
"She always broke the rules and sang music that was true to her."
— The Kennedy Center (@kencen) December 9, 2019
From her 1967 folk-rock trio the Stone Poneys, Ronstadt, now 73, did always travel to the beat of a different drum. She went on to win 10 Grammy Awards, two Academy of Country Music Awards (one for best new female artist in 1974, and in 1987, she teamed up with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris for Trio, which won album of the year, and she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.
According to the Kennedy Center, Ronstadt’s iconic songs from her Stone Poney days, to her pop/rock classics, to the songs from her three Nelson Riddle albums are what led her to make their short list for this year’s arts and entertainment world recipients. Harris was the one chosen to present her friend with the honor, and said she was a fearless artist who set the bar high for all of us. “Linda, my sister, my dear companion, thank you,” she said. Ronstadt retired in 2009 after being diagnosed with a type of Parkinson’s disease.
Other honorees at the 42nd celebration of the awards were Sesame Street, Oscar winner Sally Field, maestro Michael Tilson Thomas, and the R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire.