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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.
THE 46TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS debuts on Wednesday, December 27, 2023 from 8-10:30pm ET/PT on CBS and streams on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs). The Honorees include actor and comedian Billy Crystal; acclaimed soprano Renee Fleming; British singer-songwriter, producer and member of the Bee Gees Barry Gibb; rapper, singer and actress Queen Latifah; and singer Dionne Warwick. Additionally, former Kennedy Center Honoree (2017) Gloria Estefan returns as host, marking her third time hosting the special.

In a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage on December 3, the 2023 Honorees will be saluted by today's leading performers from New York, Hollywood and the arts capitals of the world, accepting the recognition and gratitude of their peers through performances and tributes. The event will also honor the 50th anniversary of hip hop.

The Kennedy Center Honors recognizes and celebrates individuals whose unique contributions have shaped the way we see ourselves, each other and our world. Recipients have each had an impact on the rich tapestry of American life and culture through the performing arts. Whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures or television, each Kennedy Center Honoree has a unique place in the national consciousness and their influence has inspired audiences from all walks of life.

The celebration includes:

Honoree: Dionne Warwick
Former Honoree Presenter: Herbie Hancock
Lead Storytellers: Debbie Allen
Presenters: Ego Nwodim, Clive Davis
Tribute Performers:Mickey Guyton and The Spinners (perform "Then Came You"); Cynthia Erivo (performs "Alfie"); Chloe Bailey (performs "Walk on By"); and Gladys Knight (performs "Say a Little Prayer")

Honoree: Billy Crystal
Lead Storyteller: Rob Reiner
Presenters: Rob Reiner, Jay Leno, Meg Ryan, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert De Niro, Bob Costas
Tribute Performers: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Marc Shaiman (perform Billy medley); Robert De Niro, Marc Shaiman and Lin-Manuel Miranda (perform "It Had to Be You")

Honoree: Queen Latifah
Former Honoree Presenter: Rita Moreno
Lead Storyteller: Kerry Washington
Presenters: Van Van, Missy Elliott, Kerry Washington
Tribute Performers: Yo-Yo, D-Nice, and RM Band (perform "Latifah's Had It Up to Here"); MC Lyte, Monie Love and D-Nice (perform "Ladies First"); MC Lyte, Monie Love, Yo-Yo, Van Van and D-Nice (perform "U.N.I.T.Y "); Rapsody (performs "Just Another Day"); and The Clark Sisters (perform "You Brought the Sunshine," "Winki's Theme," "I Know Where I've Been")

Honoree: Renee Fleming
Former Honoree Presenter: Robert De Niro
Lead Storyteller: Christine Baranski
Presenters: Sigourney Weaver, Tituss Burgess
Tribute Performers: Julia Bullock, Ailyn Perez, Angel Blue, Nadine Sierra (perform "Song to the Moon" with Patrick Summers); Dove Cameron (performs "The Light in the Piazza" with Patrick Vaccariello); and Tituss Burgess, Susan Graham, Christine Baranski, Rev. Stef & Jubilation Choir (perform "You'll Never Walk Alone")

Honoree: Barry Gibb
Former Honoree Presenter: Amy Grant
Lead Storyteller: Gloria Estefan
Presenters: Stephen Gibb
Tribute Performers: Little Big Town (performs "Lonely Days"); Michael Buble (performs "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart"); Ben Platt (performs "Nights on Broadway" with Wayne Linsey); and Ariana DeBose (performs disco medley of "How Deep Is Your Love," "Night Fever," "Stayin' Alive," "You Should Be Dancin'" with Chloe Flower)


Production & Distribution

  • Produced by White Cherry Entertainment


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