“Hello, gorgeous.”

An evening to remember. Religiously every year my mom joins millions of viewers tuned to the Kennedy Center Honors, recognized as the ultimate award for performing artists in the United States. The Kennedy Center writes that an honor is “compared to a knighthood in Britain, or the French Legion of Honor–the quintessential reward for a lifetime’s endeavor.”

This year, I joined mom as actor Morgan Freeman (LOVE him), country musician George Jones (ugh), choreographer Twyla Tharp (incredible), rock musicians Pete Townsend & Roger Daltry (I didn’t know what to think of this selection), along with none other than the “jane of all trades” diva extraordinaire herself, Barbra Streisand, accepted the Kennedy award. That’s right, this was no evening of queer Jews dueling over Bette vs. Barbra (Bette Midler that is — and for the record, I refuse to take sides. I love them both).

Don’t take my word for the fabulocity that is Barbra. Coincidence, I think not that the bookends of the show were Morgan Freeman and Barbra. Rumors have it she’ll be joining the roster of artists performing around Obama’s inauguration in two weeks. (Goodbye George!)

A star for over four decades, Streisand received Tony nominations for her Broadway debut I Can Get It For You Wholesale and for her star-making turn as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (she would receive a Star of the Decade, Hall of Fame Tony in 1970). Streisand would go on to recreate the role on film for a 1969 Oscar. She was also nominated for her performance in The Way We Were. She received another Oscar for co-writing “Evergreen” for A Star is Born and was similarly nominated for “I Finally Found Someone” from The Mirror Has Two Faces. Other film credits include Hello, Dolly!, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, What’s Up, Doc?, Funny Lady, Nuts and Yentl. She has also produced several of her movies.

Barbra Streisand is the US music industry’s #1 best-selling female recording artist. She is second in the all-time charts, ahead of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, exceeded only by Elvis. Streisand remains the only artist to receive an Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe, Cable Ace, and Peabody Awards, and the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award.

The winner of multiple Grammy Awards, Streisand has sold many millions of records, with 50 of them gold and 30 platinum. She is also the only artist to have Billboard #1 albums spanning four decades–the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Her many albums include”Guilty,” “Duets,” “Higher Ground,” “Memories,” “Lazy Afternoon,” “The Broadway Album” and “The Movie Album.” In addition to her Tony, Oscars and Grammys, Streisand has won five Emmys, eight Golden Globes, two ASCAP Film and Television Awards, as well as the American Film Institute Award.

Sadly, I can’t find Queen Latifah’s opening tribute to Barbra for all that she’s achieved as an actor, producer, director (Yentl, Prince of Tides, The Mirror Has Two Faces (which I have to say I really didn’t enjoy, but note to readers I’m not taking this as a time to get into a critique of her work), composer and activist who threw out the rule book about how women in entertainment had to be. Latifah praised Streisand’s quest to try any and all forms of artistic expression, declaring her a true inspiration for younger artists today. Born in Williamsburg, NY to Austrian Jewish immigrant parents, her father died when she was only 15 months old. Her mother notably discouraged her from acting, but clearly didn’t stop her from becoming the star that she is today.

Streisand stands out as one of few performing artists with the distinction of having won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award. The staggering success and star that is Streisand also didn’t hide that she would have preferred to have received the award when Obama was in office. Her disdain for Bush no secret, charging him with stealing the election, in case you need another reason to love her.

All artists are honored first as we watch a mini-biography of their life and achievements, and second by surprise guest artists. While I adored watching Barbra’s facial expressions as much as the next person as surprise musicians Idina Menzel, Beyonce and Ne-Yo performed her work back to her in her honor, I must admit, Morgan Freeman’s tribute stole the show. For really a simple reason: all of the other honorees, when it came time for the surprise guest segment of their evening, producers chose guest artists who performed in the same artistic mode as the person being honored (and often performing an artists work back to them which I wasn’t a fan of). For Twyla, dancers, for Pete, Roger, George and Barbara, singers — only Freeman had a surprise performance that was outside of his specific artistic terrain. No one acted for Freeman. Rather, his surprise were blues legends KoKo Taylor and B.B. King, chosen because of Freeman’s love of the blues (he’s opened up his own blues clubs). You actually felt like they were, literally, honoring Freeman by presenting art back to him in gratitude for all that he’s brought to our lives.

I also have to drop in here that Clint Eastwood let everyone know that Freeman is working on a new film where he’ll be playing Nelson Mandela.

The Kennedy Center Awards truly define an award experience. Every moment impeccably scripted, with fine detailed stories written to draw you in, and understand how each of these performers have shaped and reshaped, defined and redefined arts in the United States. There’s a reason why the Kennedy Center Awards are recognized as the ultimate salute — royalty, a crowning of admiration. L’chaim Barbara! A toast to you!

P.S. For Barbra devotees, remember Coffee Talk with Linda Richman, and her fabulous love of Barbra! In case you needed a reminder, here’s Ms. Richman herself joined by none other than Madonna and Roseanne Barr in this SNL skit, where Barbra surprises them all at the end (i.e. fast forward the clip!)

P.S. Thanks Aliza! I clearly missed the memo!