Pop icon and country singer Linda Ronstadt lived up to her reputation as an honest artist and a political activist during Saturday night's (Dec. 7) State Department dinner for this year's Kennedy Center honorees after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referenced her version of "When Will I Be Loved."
Pompeo mentioned Ronstadt's 1975 cover of an Everly Brothers classic when joking about how President Donald Trump's impeachment hearings have impacted his popularity in Washington, DC. Ronstadt then told Pompeo to his face that he'd find his answer if he'd "stop enabling Donald Trump."
Sam Greisman, the son of Ronstadt's fellow Kennedy Center honoree Sally Field, broke the trending news via a live tweet from the event. Ronstadt later confirmed her stance regarding Pompeo and President Trump's administration during a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper.
Ronstadt and Field were celebrated at a Sunday Night (Dec. 8) gala as the latest Kennedy Center Honors recipients alongside the band Earth, Wind & Fire, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the children's television series Sesame Street. A big fan of Ronstadt's, Carrie Underwood, covered "Blue Bayou" and "When Will I Be Loved" at Sunday's event.
"One of the things that I have always admired about [Ronstadt] is her ability to do whatever she wants," Underwood said on the 2019 Kennedy Center Honors red carpet, as quoted by CMT. "She always broke the rules and sang music that she felt like was true to her. She was a chameleon. She loved music and she sang so many different kinds and genres. She wanted to sing country music, rock music, she would sing Spanish. She is just somebody I think the rest of us should all be more like."
Ronstadt's longtime friend and fellow Trio member Emmylou Harris spoke during Sunday's event. Per the Associated Press, Harris lauded Ronstadt's singing voice as "the most stunningly beautiful of our generation." The pair's enduring friendship is chronicled in the film Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice.
Both events marked rare public appearances by 73-year-old Ronstadt, who'd retired from performing in 2011 due to the effects of Parkinson's disease.
The annual Kennedy Center Honors ceremony will be broadcast on CBS on Sunday (Dec. 15) at 8 p.m. ET.