Alderman Ben Bumbry was beaming at Monday night’s Quincy City Council meeting.
He had just returned from Washington, D.C., where he watched his younger sister, Grace Bumbry, an internationally known opera singer, share in the limelight at Sunday’s 32nd annual Kennedy Center Honors.
Grace Bumbry, who grew up in St. Louis, was one of five individuals recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts. She was honored for helping to break the color barrier on her way to one of the most illustrious operatic careers of the 20th century.
Also honored at the same event were jazz great Dave Brubeck, legendary actor Robert DeNiro, rock star Bruce Springsteen and comic actor/writer/producer Mel Brooks.
Mayor John Spring commended Ben Bumbry for making it back in time to attend Monday’s City Council meeting. He then encouraged Bumbry to share what it was like to attend such a gala event and watch his sister receive “the highest arts honor in this country.”
“It was something to behold,” Bumbry said.
“It was something to see all the movie stars,” he added, noting how the Kennedy Center was filled with all sorts of celebrities and big-name politicians, including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and their wives.
“Robert DeNiro is something else,” Bumbry said.
Bumbry, who has spent much of his adult life as a jazz musician, was also pleased to get to see Brubeck, one of his favorite jazz artists. Bumbry said a special surprise awaited Brubeck when a curtain was pulled back a jazz band comprised of his five sons began to play in his honor.
“My sister’s on Cloud Nine. I’m on the other cloud,” Bumbry said.
Spring told him: “It’s just something very special for our community to have Grace recognized like this, and you deserve to be on Cloud Nine.”
A telecast of the Kennedy Center Honors will air nationally Dec. 29 on CBS.