NEWS: Kennedy Center Announces Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award Recipients

The recipients of the 45th Kennedy Center Honors. Clockwise from left: Tania Léon, Amy Grant, U2, George Clooney, Gladys Knight. Original photos by Gail Hadani, Cameron Powell, Olaf Heine, Annette Nantell, and Derek Blanks.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced the recipients of the 45th Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements. 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 and pop singer-songwriter Amy Grant;
  • legendary soul, Gospel, R&B, and pop singer Gladys Knight;
  • Cuban-born American composer, conductor, and educator Tania León; and
  • iconic Irish rock band U2 (members BonoThe EdgeAdam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr.).

The Kennedy Center also announced today that the award-winning production company Done+Dusted will serve as Executive Producers of the 45th annual Kennedy Center Honors.  

Summarizing the awards, Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter noted, “For nearly a half-century, the Kennedy Center Honors has represented the very best of America’s creative culture…each year’s Honorees add another layer to the complex and inspiring collage of artists that together tell the story of our collective contribution to global culture.”

Throughout its 44-year history, the annual Honors Gala has become a highlight of the Washington cultural and society calendar, and its national broadcast on CBS is a high point of the television season. Taking place on Sunday, December 4 with a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, the 45th class of Kennedy Center Honorees will be saluted by a selection of internationally renown performers. The 45th Kennedy Center Honors Gala concludes with a dinner in the Grand Foyer. 

The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Television Network at a later date for the 45th consecutive year as a two-hour primetime special. It will also be available to stream live and on-demand via Paramount+. 

Joining this year’s Honors creative team is Done+Dusted, a production company with a reputation for creating and capturing the moments that make headlines and shape culture. The 45th annual Kennedy Center Honors will be produced by Done+Dusted in association with ROK Productions, represented by Elizabeth Kelly, who will executive produce alongside David Jammy and Ian Stewart. The show will be directed by Alex Rudzinski.

This event is made possible through the contributions of several major supporters:

  • The Exclusive Sponsor of the Kennedy Center Honors is CBS.
  • The Exclusive Underwriter of the Kennedy Center Honors Gala is Boeing.
  • The Official Airline of the Kennedy Center Honors is Delta Air Lines.
  • The Kennedy Center Honors Founding Producer is George Stevens, Jr. 

The Honors recipients are recognized for their contributions to American culture through the performing arts—whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television—and are confirmed by the Executive Committee of 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; the selection process, over the years, has produced balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.

The Honoree selection process includes solicitation of recommendations from former Honorees, the artistic community, the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees, and the general public. This year’s selected Honorees were chosen based on the recommendation of the Center’s Special Honors Advisory Committee, which is chaired by David Bohnett and includes past Honors recipients and distinguished artists Julie Andrews, Gloria Estefan, Herbie Hancock, Judith Jamison, Lionel Richie, and John Williams, as well as David M. Rubenstein, Deborah F. Rutter, Bryan Lourd, Cappy McGarr, Shonda Rhimes, and Daryl Roth.