First lady Laura Bush led an all-star tribute to George Jones during the Kennedy Center Honors celebration Sunday night.
Bush described her love of Jones’ tunes as a girl and how she and President George W. Bush had been longtime fans.
“There’s no getting tired of a singer” such as Jones, she said before introducing a short film about his troubled life.
The film did not gloss over his drinking or other personal problems but talked about how they fed his music. After the film, country music stars Brad Paisley, Randy Travis and Alan Jackson sang Jones’ hits.
Travis called Jones the “biggest influence I would ever know in the world.”
Garth Brooks then sang a medley of Jones’ signature hits including “White Lightning.” Brooks doffed his cowboy hat and said, “simply the greatest voice to ever sing country music — George Jones.”
Shelby Lynne ended the tribute with a haunting version of “Amazing Grace.” She was then joined on stage by Jackson, Paisley, Brooks — and Laura Bush.
Others honored were choreographer Twyla Tharp; rock stars Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey; singer Barbra Streisand; and actor Morgan Freeman.