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Kennedy Center Honors

Kennedy Center Honors

  • Premiered: 
    December 5, 1978
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: CBS
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Award
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter:
  • Tags: celebrity

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Plot Synopsis

Each year since 1978 -- except in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic -- The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has honored individuals for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures, and television, as selected by the Center's Board of Trustees. The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; over the years, the selection process has produced a balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.

Recipients honored in December 2013 at the 36th Annual National Celebration of the Arts include these five individuals: Martina Arroyo, the soprano voice, who shares her artistry with a new generation of opera singers; Herbie Hancock, who has established himself as one of the most innovative musicians in the world; Billy Joel, whose melodies have provided the soundtrack of our lives for over four decades; Shirley MacLaine, whose acting has left an indelible impression during a nearly 60-year career on stage and screen; and Carlos Santana, whose artistry transcends genres while entertaining millions. THE 36TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS was taped on December 8, 2013 and broadcast three weeks later on Sunday, December 29, 2013 from 9-11pm ET/PT on CBS.

Stephen Colbert hosted THE 37TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, which CBS broadcast on Tuesday, December 30, 2014 from 9-11pm ET/PT, honoring these five individuals: singer Al Green; actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks; ballerina Patricia McBride; singer-songwriter Sting; and comedienne Lily Tomlin. The President and Mrs. Obama will receive the Honorees, members of the Artists Committee who nominate them, and the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees at the White House prior to the gala performance taping on December 7. The 2014 Kennedy Center Honors Gala concludes with a supper dance in the Grand Foyer. Performers and presenters included Jared Angle, Christine Baranski, Laura Benanti, Jeffrey Cirio, Misty Copeland, Earth, Wind & Fire, Jane Fonda, Lady Gaga, Whoopi Goldberg, Herbie Hancock, Jennifer Hudson, Garrison Keillor, David Letterman, Lauren Lovette, Jane Lynch, Bruno Mars, Reba McEntire, Kate McKinnon, Sam Moore, Jessie Mueller, Kelli O'Hara, Tiler Peck, Pentatonix, Martin Short, Esperanza Spalding, Steven Spielberg, Bruce Springsteen, Mavis Staples, Meryl Streep and Usher.

Hosted by Stephen Colbert, THE 38TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS was broadcast on Tuesday, December 29, 2015 from 9-11pm ET/PT on CBS, honoring singer-songwriter Carole King, filmmaker George Lucas, actress and singer Rita Moreno, conductor Seiji Ozawa and actress and Broadway star Cicely Tyson. The Eagles were originally scheduled to be honored, but band member Glenn Frey was unable to attend because of health issues, and the band will be honored the following year.

Hosted for the third consecutive year by Stephen Colbert, THE 39TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS premiered on Tuesday, December 27, 2016 from 9-11pm ET/PT on CBS, honoring these nominees: Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, rock band the Eagles, screen and stage actor Al Pacino, gospel and blues singer Mavis Staples and musician James Taylor.

THE 41st ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS premiered on Wednesday, December 26, 2018 from 8-10pm ET/PT on CBS, honoring actress Cher, composer and pianist Philip Glass, country music entertainer Reba McEntire, and jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter. Additionally, the co-creators of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical "Hamilton" -- writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and music director Alex Lacamoire -- receive a unique Kennedy Center Honors as trailblazing creators of a transformative work that defies category. The event, hosted by 2017 honoree Gloria Estrefan, was taped on December 2, 2018 at the Kennedy Center Opera House.

Hosted by LL Cool J, THE 42nd ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS premiered on Sunday, December 15, 2019 from 8-10pm ET/PT on CBS, honoring R&B collective Earth, Wind & Fire, actress Sally Field, singer Linda Ronstadt, children's television program SESAME STREET and conductor and musical visionary Michael Tilson Thomas.

Hosted by Gloria Estefan, THE 43rd ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS premiered on Sunday, June 6, 2021 from 8-10pm ET/PT on CBS, as Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, Garth Brooks, Midori, and Dick Van Dyke receive Kennedy Center Honors in recognition of lifetime artistic achievement.

THE 44th ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS premiered on Wednesday, December 22, 2021 from 9-11pm ET/PT on CBS, featuring these honorees: Lorne Michaels, Bette Midler, Justino Diaz, Joni Mitchell, and Berry Gordy. 2012 Kennedy Center honoree David Letterman kicked off the event, followed by entertainment icons paying tribute to the new honorees.
THE 45th ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS premiered on Wednesday, December 28, 2022 from 8-10pm ET/PT on CBS. The recipients to be honored at the annual national celebration of the arts in Washington, D.C., are: acclaimed actor and filmmaker George Clooney; contemporary Christian pop singer-songwriter Amy Grant; the legendary singer of soul, Gospel, R&B and pop Gladys Knight; Cuban-born American composer, conductor and educator Tania Leon; and iconic Irish rock band U2, comprised of band members Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.

Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein said this about the 2022 Honorees: "Whether saving humanity, masterminding a heist or captaining a ship in dangerous seas, actor George Clooney's unique brand of earnest charisma and his complete embodiment of a character has led us to root for him every time; multiplatinum singer-songwriter Amy Grant became the first artist to bring contemporary Christian music to the forefront of American culture, then equally thrived after crossing over into mainstream pop with hit after hit, and today is revered as the "Queen of Christian Pop"; in her 55-year music career, legendary singer and America's beloved "Empress of Soul" Gladys Knight went from the Pips of Georgia to GRAMMY royalty, showcasing a boundless vocal range and soulfulness that has stood the test of time; a brave, young Cuban refugee-turned-Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and music ambassador, Tania Leon has blessed America for more than five decades with her astoundingly original compositions and continues to be a major influence on classical music; and one of most influential rock bands of the modern rock era, U2, won over America and the world long ago with their iconic anthems, potent lyrics and powerful messages of social justice and global citizenship -- earning a musical legacy that crosses generations, inspires and unites."

HONOREE: Gladys Knight
PRESENTER: Michael Tilson Thomas
TRIBUTE PERFORMERS: Garth Brooks (Performs "Midnight Train to Georgia"); Mickey Guyton (Performs "Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me"); Ariana DeBose (Performs "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"); and Patti LaBelle, Garth Brooks, Ariana DeBose, Mickey Guyton (Perform "That's What Friends Are For")

HONOREE: George Clooney
PRESENTERS: Matt Damon, Nick Clooney, Richard Kind, Don Cheadle
TRIBUTE PERFORMER: Dianne Reeves (Performs "How High the Moon" with Terreon Gully, Martin Wind and John Beasley)

HONOREE: Amy Grant
TRIBUTE PERFORMERS: Sheryl Crow (Performs "Baby, Baby"); The Highwomen, comprised of Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires(Perform "Somewhere Down the Road" with Jason Isbell); and BeBe & CeCe Winans and Michael W Smith (Perform "Sing Your Praise to the Lord" and "El Shaddai" with Howard University Gospel Choir)

HONOREE: Tania Leon
LEAD STORYTELLER: Anna Deavere Smith
TRIBUTE PERFORMERS: Chloe Flower (Performs "Tumbao" with Dance Theatre of Harlem Company); Jael Dolce (Young Tania) and Anna Deavere Smith (Perform "Malguena"); Jason and Alicia Hall Moran and Sterling Elliott (Perform "Oh Yemanja"); and Jeri Lynne Johnson and Joe Kwon to appear with KC orchestra and members of Sphinx (Perform "Stride")

PRESENTER: Sacha Baron Cohen
TRIBUTE PERFORMERS: Eddie Vedder (Performs "Elevation" and "With or Without You"); Hozier + Jamala + Brandi Carlile (Perform "Walk On")
TRIBUTE FILM NARRATORS: Billie + Fineas, Harry Styles, Beyonce


Production & Distribution

  • Produced by White Cherry Entertainment


  • The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts - Washington DC USA - Map It!