U2, Gladys Knight Receive Kennedy Center Honors

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The Edge and Bono of U2 at the Kennedy Center Honors 2022 ceremony

U2 and Gladys Knight are among those that were recognized at the 45th Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements. They were part of the annual national celebration by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the five 2022 Honorees in Washington, D.C., that was held on Dec. 4 The others: actor and filmmaker George Clooney; contemporary Christian and pop singer-songwriter Amy Grant; and Cuban-born American composer, conductor, and educator Tania León. The Honors Gala was recorded for broadcast on the CBS Television Network for the 45th consecutive year as a two-hour primetime special on Dec. 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. It’s available on demand on Paramount+.

In the original July 21 statement, the iconic Irish rock band, composed of band members Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., said, “In December 1980, we made our first trip across the Atlantic to America. Our first show was at The Ritz in New York City, the second, The Bayou in D.C. We had big dreams then, fueled in part by the commonly held belief at home that America smiles on Ireland. And it turned out to be true, yet again. But even in the wilder thoughts, we never imagined that 40 years on, we would be invited back to receive one of the nation’s greatest honours…It has been a four-decade love affair with the country and its people, its artists, and culture. We consider America to be a home away from home and we are very grateful to the Kennedy Center Honors for welcoming us into this great clan of extraordinary artists.”

Gladys Knight (Photo: Derek Blanks, via the Kennedy Center For the Performing Arts)

Knight, the legendary singer of soul, gospel, R&B, and pop, said, “I’m humbled beyond words to be included amongst this prestigious group of individuals, both past and present. You could never have told me as a young girl starting my career that I would be honored on a stage such as this, with artists and humanitarians such as these—it just wouldn’t have seemed possible. It would have been the dream of all dreams. I have been blessed with so much in my life and this certainly stands with those achievements at the top of that list. To be honored as a Kennedy Center Honoree is among the highlights of my career. I stand here with my fans, my family, my friends, my team, and my faith in accepting such an amazing distinction.”

On December 4, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, the 45th class of Kennedy Center Honorees were saluted by today’s leading performers from New York, Hollywood, and the arts capitals of the world. Seated in the Box Tier of the iconic Kennedy Center Opera House, the Honorees accepted the recognition and gratitude of their peers through performances and tributes.

Knight was beaming as Garth Brooks joined the Pips to sing “Midnight Train to Georgia.”

Julia Roberts and Matt Damon gave speeches honoring Clooney. Roberts’ dress featured dozens of images of her frequent co-star.

Damon shared some inside jokes about his friend.

Sheryl Crow sang Grant’s crossover hit, “Baby Baby.”

Sacha Baron Cohen gave a speech honoring U2 in character as Borat Sagdiyev

Eddie Vedder, Brandi Carlile and Crow were among those performing U2 songs during the band’s segment.

Watch some highlights of the event

Earlier that day, President Biden addressed the 2022 honorees at the White House. Brooks, Roberts, Damon, Trisha Yearwood, and Penn were among the guests in attendance.

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 Julie Andrews, Gloria Estefan, Herbie Hancock, Lionel Richie, and John Williams.

Past recipients include Linda Ronstadt, Led Zeppelin, Dick Van Dyke, Eagles, Al Pacino, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, George Lucas, Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Dolly Parton, Berry Gordy, Robert Redford, and dozens more.

Clooney said, “Growing up in a small town in Kentucky I could never have imagined that someday I’d be the one sitting in the balcony at the Kennedy Center Honors. To be mentioned in the same breath with the rest of these incredible artists is an honor. This is a genuinely exciting surprise for the whole Clooney family.”

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine ever receiving this prestigious Kennedy Center Honors,” said Grant. “Through the years, I’ve watched so many of my heroes serenaded by colleagues and fellow artists, always moved by the ability of music and film to bring us together and to see the best in each other. I cannot wait to celebrate with my fellow honorees, friends, and family. Thank you for widening the circle to include all of us.”

Related: The members of Led Zeppelin were moved to tears at their 2012 Honors

Best Classic Bands Staff

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