Darius Rucker gave a once-in-a-lifetime performance during the 2016 Kennedy Center Honors on Tuesday night (Dec. 27). The South Carolina native paid tribute to James Taylor with a powerful medley of "Sweet Baby James" and "Carolina in My Mind."

Dressed in a tuxedo, the Grammy-winning rock and country singer performed on a stage that was set to look like a pastoral nature setting, seated on what seemed to be an outcropping of stone and playing an acoustic guitar as he launched into "Sweet Baby James," the title song of Taylor's iconic album from 1970.

A gentle string accompaniment swelled behind him as he sang, in a performance that moved Taylor visibly as he watched from the balcony.

That segued into "Carolina in My Mind," a song that rang especially true for the proud South Carolinian. Taylor smiled along as Rucker delivered one of the strongest performances of the evening, which included Garth Brooks singing "Shower the People" and Sheryl Crow paying tribute with "Fire & Rain." Taylor joined the audience in an ovation for Rucker after he concluded his musical tribute to the iconic singer-songwriter.

Taylor joined the Eagles, Al Pacino, gospel and blues legend Mavis Staples and Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich as the honorees at the 39th annual Kennedy Center Honors, which taped on Dec. 4 and broadcast on Tuesday night on CBS. The annual ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of artists who work has made an indelible and lasting contribution to their field.

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