U2, Gladys Knight to Receive Kennedy Center Honors

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U2 (Photo: Olaf Heine, via the Kennedy Center For the Performing Arts)

U2 and Gladys Knight are among those that have been selected for the 45th Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the selection of five 2022 Honorees at the annual national celebration of the arts in Washington, D.C. The others, in the July 21 announcement are: actor and filmmaker George Clooney; contemporary Christian and pop singer-songwriter Amy Grant; Cuban-born American composer, conductor, and educator Tania León.

In a 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. It is dedicated to all those who paved the path for me to be able to accomplish the wonderful blessings I’ve been able to receive. The Kennedy Center’s commitment to the arts is unparalleled and I am so very grateful for this moment.”

On December 4, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, the 45th class of Kennedy Center Honorees will be 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 will accept the recognition and gratitude of their peers through performances and tributes.

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 and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

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

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