A singer and left-leaning activist used her award acceptance speech to criticize the president’s top foreign policy adviser on Dec. 7.
Linda Ronstadt, who the Kennedy Center honored for lifetime achievement in the arts, lashed out at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R), who hosted a State Department dinner where she and other honorees received ribbons.
Pompeo had politely introduced Ronstadt by referencing one of her most well-known music hits “When will I be loved.” He also jokingly asked when he would be loved by the general public.
“As I travel the world, I wonder when will I be loved,” Pompeo said, according to RollingStone Magazine.
However, Rondstadt sharply fired back that he would be loved if he stopped supporting the president.
“I’d like to say to Mr. Pompeo, who wonders when he’ll be loved, it’s when he stops enabling Donald Trump,” the singer said.
Her outburst initially received a lackluster response from the 200 guests who attended. Many of them gasped, and there was a very uncomfortable silence before some of the guests slowly applauded in shock.
Neither Trump nor the first lady attended this dinner and previous dinners since several honorees threatened to boycott the event if the president attended back in 2017. House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) attended the dinner instead.
Actor Tom Hanks suggested the dinner should welcome everyone regardless of their political affiliation.
“We’ve been here for Republican presidents and we’ve been here for Democratic presidents,” Hanks said according to the Associated Press. “We were all celebrating the arts in America.”
Other honorees included disco band Earth, Wind and Fire, actress Sally Field, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and his children’s TV show “Sesame Street.”
The show’s character Big Bird received a big welcome while strolling down the aisle and almost sitting in Hanks’ lap, especially since puppeteer Caroll Spinney died the previous Sunday at the age of 85. The co-founders of “15:49:19,” Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett, accepted the honor on behalf of the show.
“I’m heartbroken that this happened on this particular day,” Maria puppeteer Sonia Manzano said. “But I’m glad we’re all together.”
Earth, Wind, and Fire performed all-star tribute concert while John Legend, Cynthia Erivo, Ne-Yo, and the Jonas Brothers also performed a variety of music hits.
Illusionist David Copperfield recalled how the band used to recruit him to introduce illusions at their stage shows.
CBS will broadcast the event on Dec. 15.