Staff Picks

Heart’s Stunning and Emotional Version of “Stairway to Heaven”

Heart’s rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” at the Kennedy Center Honors in December 2012 is widely celebrated as a moving and impeccable performance. Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart were tasked with paying tribute to Led Zeppelin, performing in front of the band’s surviving members: Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones. The performance was part of the Kennedy Center Honors, an annual event recognizing the lifetime achievements of artists in various fields.

The Wilson sisters, accompanied by Jason Bonham, the son of Led Zeppelin’s original drummer John Bonham, delivered a performance that captivated both the audience and the honorees. The arrangement began with a somber, acoustic opening led by Nancy on guitar, setting the stage for Ann’s powerful and emotional vocals. As the song progressed, the addition of a gospel choir brought a profound depth to the rendition, culminating in a powerful climax that resonated deeply with everyone present.

Robert Plant, known for his critical stance on many covers of Led Zeppelin’s songs, was visibly moved to tears during the performance. He later reflected on how Heart’s interpretation of “Stairway to Heaven” stripped away years of emotional baggage associated with the song, reminding him of its timeless beauty and significance. Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones also expressed their admiration for Heart’s rendition, acknowledging the emotional and musical excellence of the performance.

Ann Wilson described the experience as both nerve-wracking and exhilarating. Despite the immense pressure of performing such an iconic song in front of its original creators, she and Nancy managed to channel their nerves into a focused and heartfelt performance. Ann later recalled feeling a profound connection to the song’s emotional content, describing the experience as almost “orgasmic” in its intensity and authenticity.

Critics and fans alike praised the performance for its respectful yet innovative approach. Heart managed to stay true to the spirit of the original while adding their unique touch, particularly through the use of the choir and the orchestral arrangement. The rendition was noted for its ability to breathe new life into a song that many consider overplayed, showcasing Ann Wilson’s vocal prowess and the band’s musical integrity.

Overall, Heart’s performance of “Stairway to Heaven” is remembered as a highlight of the Kennedy Center Honors and a testament to the enduring power of Led Zeppelin’s music. It stands as a shining example of how a cover can honor the original while bringing something fresh and deeply moving to the audience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *