Critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Natalie Hemby recently (Dec. 4) brought her unmatched talents to the 45th Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C.
The black-tie affair celebrated Amy Grant's remarkable impact on contemporary Christian music. The trailblazer received the lifetime artistic achievement award alongside honorees George Clooney, genre-bending artist Gladys Knight, Irish rock band U2, and composer, Tania León.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine ever receiving this prestigious Kennedy Center Honors," said Grant in a previous statement. "Through the years, I've watched so many of my heroes serenaded by colleagues and fellow artists, always moved by the ability to music and film to bring us together and to see the best in each other. I cannot wait to celebrate with my fellow honorees, friends, and family. Thank you for widening the circle to include all of us."
The prestigious accolade does not recognize just one project, but a creatives artistic "influence over many decades." According to Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter, the great honor is considered as the "pinnacle of awards."
"This level of distinction is important. Through this holistic viewpoints, each year's honorees add another layer to the complex and inspiring collage of artists that together tell the story of our collective contribution to global culture," shared Rutter. "Now, as the Center completes its yearlong 50th Anniversary celebration, I cannot help but think that the Kennedy Center's namesake would surely smile at this celebration that brings us closer to his vision of 'an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft.'"
The Highwomen, comprised of Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires, paid tribute to Grant during the star-studded gala. It is unclear which song the award-winning group covered for the two-hour-long CBS special, but Hemby turned to social media (Dec. 5) to reflect on the unforgettable experience and how Grant positively impacted her craft.
"I had her posters on my wall, her music in my boom box, her sheet music all over my piano…she is the reason I'm a songwriter. But more importantly, she is the reason why so many of us are where we are today," wrote Hemby alongside a string of heartwarming photos. "Last night, we got to honor our hero @amygrantofficial at the @kennedycenter. It made me cry because it was a dream come true to watch her sit in the balcony next to her fellow honorees @u2, George Clooney, Tania León, and @msgladsknight and have the audience give her the biggest standing ovation."
She continued to mention that Grant's close friends and family were in attendance to witness the historic moment. Hemby's mother, Deanna Pierce, was also present to watch her daughter shine at the esteemed ceremony.
"@Vincegillofficial and her whole family were there," Hemby pointed out. "There wasn't a dry eye among us. I wanna thank @thehighwomen @sherylcrow, @katiecouric, @cecewinans bebewinans, and the incredible @mwsmithofficial for such a beautiful tribute to her. It was so fun spending time with you all backstage. All we did was talk about how much we loved Amy," she added.
While in capital city, Hemby made a visit to the White House to attend President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden's first state dinner. The White House has not held a state dinner since September 2019 due to the global pandemic. Notable socialites and politicians gathered to commemorate democracy, equality, and freedom.
Following the once-in-a-lifetime soirée, Hemby jumped on Instagram to share snapshots she took with friends in the country community and Chief Technology Officer at NASA, Deborah Diaz.
"Stately Dinners ✨ ✨ ✨ It's strange and fascinating being in historical rooms with people you grew up watching on the screen or listening to over and over again on the radio. People you studied, wanted to be like, people that you hoped you could meet someday," said Hemby. "I didn't have the nerve to walk up to any of them, but I enjoyed sitting in the room and being a fly on the wall, watching and listening to poetic words pour from everyone's mouth…watching @amygrantoffficial receive her metal and watching the whole room fall in love with her…it was like a movie," she recalled.
She compared the experience to the 1997 classic film "Titanic" and how she felt like Jack in first class. Hemby revealed what it was like to watch Gladys Knight deliver "Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me" acapella and her nonchalant encounter with renowned actress Julia Roberts.
Country music star Mickey Guyton was also on the prominent guest list and embraced the glamorous affair with Hemby.
The Honors Gala is set to air on CBS and will be available to stream on Paramount+ at a later date.