Perhaps the biggest barrier in trying to pull off a decent cover of the classic Led Zeppelin song “Stairway to Heaven” is recreating the unique and powerful voice of Robert Plant. It’s a rare singer who can offer a competing rendition. However, Mary Wilson of the band Heart was able to rise to the challenge when she and her sister Anne performed the song at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors and did such a great job that Robert Plant, who was in the audience, was actually brought to tears.
But the vocals aren’t the only tricky party of recreating Stairway to Heaven (and doing the legendary song justice). Every one of the members of Led Zeppelin were excellent musicians, with highly personal styles between their instruments of choice. The song is long, and technical, and a lot of people will be upset if you butcher a track they hold so dear… It’s a dangerous game, really. But one Wilson was ready to play.
The Wilson Sisters performed the song with the help of a lot of other musicians: a full orchestra and a choir, along with the necessary classic rock instruments. The event was performed specifically to honor Led Zeppelin, who was receiving an award at the ceremony.
They were a good choice since, like Led Zeppelin, Heart was popular in the 1970s. – and their cover rocked. Mary Wilson’s vocals were tremendous, and the cameras showed the surviving members of Led Zeppelin sitting in the balcony above visibly emotional. Barack and Michelle Obama, who were also in the audience, and were clearly enjoying the song as well.
Led Zeppelin has affected several generations of people now, and their music has been elevated to a legendary status. Whether you loved them or [somehow] not, it is impossible to deny how much of an influence they’ve had on the modern age of music.