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celebrations

Al Pacino, James Taylor, Mavis Staples celebrated at Kennedy Center Honors

During his eighth and final Kennedy Center Honors celebration as president, Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were treated to cheers and standing ovations by the audience.

Sunday's gala, hosted by Stephen Colbert, recognized Al Pacino, Mavis Staples, Martha Argerich, James Taylor, and Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmidt, and Joe Walsh, surviving members of the Eagles, for influencing American culture. The Obamas were introduced after the honorees, with Colbert saying, "For the past eight years, the White House has given us a leader who's passionate, intelligent, and dignified." The audience rose to give Obama a standing ovation, and the president stood and waved. "Sir, I don't even know why you stood up," Colbert quipped. "I was talking about Michelle."

At an earlier reception, Obama said the arts have "always been part of life at the White House, because the arts are always central to American life." During the ceremony, Don Cheadle spoke about Staples and her family's civil rights legacy; Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, and Darius Rucker performed medleys of Taylor's music; and Kevin Spacey shared instructions on how to sound like Pacino. The Eagles were to be honored in 2015, but postponed their participation due to founding member Glenn Frey's poor health. Frey died in January, and his widow, Cindy Frey, stood with his band mates on Sunday night. The ceremony will air Dec. 27 on CBS.