At the 41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors in 2019, a poignant and unexpected moment unfolded when Adam Lambert, renowned for his role as the Queen’s frontman and an alum of American Idol, took to the stage to pay tribute to the iconic pop diva Cher. The ceremony, a celebration of lifetime artistic achievement, unfolded on December 26, 2018, within the grandeur of the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C.
Cher, a distinguished honoree, was visibly moved by Lambert’s rendition of her 1998 hit “Believe.” The atmosphere shifted as Lambert transformed the upbeat and electric original into a heartfelt, ballad-like rendition. The camera captured Cher’s tearful response as Lambert’s emotional performance echoed through the hall. Weeks later, the impact remained, with Cher taking to Twitter to express her sentiments, declaring the performance “BEYOND COMPREHENSION.”
Cher’s astonishment was not the sole surprise of the evening. Rock legend Cyndi Lauper, who had earlier indicated her absence, stunned Cher with an unexpected performance of “If I Could Turn Back Time.” As the evening came to a close, a magical duet ensued, with Lambert and Lauper joining forces for a touching rendition of “I Got You Babe.”
Reflecting on his monumental interpretation of “Believe” in a recent interview with Attitude magazine, Lambert confessed to his pre-performance jitters, acknowledging his heart raced with nerves. Yet, he also conveyed his profound honor in interpreting a song by one of the most illustrious singers in history. Lambert’s deep appreciation for Cher’s music traces back to his high school days, with her 1998 album, “Believe,” holding a special place among his favorites.
The Kennedy Center Honors have witnessed Lambert’s mesmerizing tribute to musical legends before. In 2016, on the television program “Greatest Hits,” Lambert showcased his remarkable vocal prowess in a heartfelt homage to George Michael, serenading the audience with an impeccable rendition of the 1987 hit, “Faith.” The synergy between Lambert’s exceptional performances has solidified his reputation as one of the preeminent vocalists of his generation, earning admiration from devoted fans.
An embodiment of artistic distinction, the Kennedy Center Honors stand as a pinnacle recognition within the American performing arts landscape. For 44 years, this prestigious ceremony has celebrated luminaries for their enduring contributions. Among the 2018 honorees were luminaries like country star Reba McEntire, jazz composer Wayne Shorter, the esteemed Philip Glass, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, along with the creative team behind the groundbreaking production, “Hamilton.”