Nashville's stars salute the 'Coal Miner's Daughter'

Monday, December 8th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The nation's capital sounded a little more like Nashville with country music stars paying tribute to ``coal miner's daughter'' Loretta Lynn at the 26th Kennedy Center Honors.

``Godfather of Soul'' James Brown, comedian Carol Burnett, director Mike Nichols and violinist Itzhak Perlman also were honored Sunday night for their artistic achievements.

Actress Sissy Spacek, who played Lynn in the movie ``Coal Miner's Daughter,'' praised the country legend for reflecting her Appalachian upbringing in her songs.

``It's where she got her strength, her feistiness and her music,'' Spacek said in her tribute.

Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Lyle Lovett and Patty Loveless delved into a medley of Lynn's lyrical tunes, highlighted by a Brooks and Yearwood duet on ``Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man.''

The show's rhythm changed when hip-hop performers honored Brown, and singer Anastacia led the show's black-tie audience in a clap-along rendition of Brown's ``Sex Machine.''

Rapper LL Cool J said Brown blazed a path for black musicians. ``You broke down mental and social barriers and made it possible for me, a black kid from Queens, to stand in front of presidents and say, 'Say it loud, I'm black and I'm proud,''' he said.

The honorees shared the presidential box with President Bush, his wife, Laura, and his parents, former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush.

Julie Andrews introduced Burnett as an old friend who ``seems to bring out some devil in me.'' Andrews joined Scott Bakula, John Schneider, Elaine Stritch, Kim Cattrall, Florence Henderson, Tim Conway and Bernadette Peters, who came onstage wearing costumes from ``The Carol Burnett Show'' and sang a musical tribute culminating in the show's theme song. Burnett's show won 22 Emmy awards in its 11-year run on CBS.

Playwright Tom Stoppard saluted Nichols by noting his many other prizes. ``The Mike Nichols Every Medal or None International Committee _ or MNEMONIC, as we like to call ourselves _ has so far awarded Mike Nichols 87 medals,'' Stoppard said, for movies, plays, albums and ``personal hygiene.''

Elaine May, Nichols' one-time partner in comedy, also was on hand. Candice Bergen, Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christine Baranski performed a musical-comedy salute to Nichols' career as director of Broadway shows, including the original production of ``The Odd Couple,'' and movies, including ``The Graduate.'' Nichols' latest film, an adaptation of Tony Kushner's epic play ``Angels in America,'' debuted Sunday on HBO.

Students from Perlman's New York-based music program brought tears to the violinist's eyes when they thanked him for influencing their work.

Fellow violinist Pinchas Zukerman led the students in a performance of Vivaldi's ``Summer'' from ``The Four Seasons'' to honor Perlman, an Israeli-born musician who has performed all over the world and contributed to the Oscar-winning ``Schindler's List'' soundtrack.

The Kennedy Center Honors will be broadcast on CBS-TV Dec. 26.