Musicians U2 and Gladys Knight, along with actor George Clooney, will receive this year’s Kennedy Center Honors in December. Also picking up the prestigious award will be Christian singer Amy Grant and composer Tania Leon.
ABC News reports the annual awards ceremony is held for individuals who have influenced American culture through the arts. Bands aren’t always the Center’s first choice, although the Eagles were given the award 2016 and Led Zeppelin in 2012.
U2 lead singer Bono was stunned when he was told. Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter said that when Bono was informed that the band was a winner, it was during a meal and “he dropped his fork.” She says it took the band as a whole a while to officially accept because the rest of the group – The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr. – were scattered about the globe.
U2, who has sold 170 million albums and won 22 Grammys, thanked the Kennedy Center in a statement which shared part of their long history in the United States. They pointed out their first show was in New York in 1980 and their second in Washington, 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,” the band said in a statement, calling the United States “a home away from home.”- U2
Two-time Academy Award Winner Clooney was similarly awed. “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,” Clooney said in a release, saying that the honor was a “genuinely exciting surprise” for his whole family.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts holds their ceremony every year in Washington, D.C. It’s a star-studded event where big celebrities and past honorees will show up to induct that year’s crop.
Below is the 2012 event where Jack Black (of Tenacious D) inducted Led Zeppelin, and several high profile musicians performed their music. Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins sang lead on “Rock and Roll” while Dave Grohl landed behind the kit. Kid Rock did, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and “Ramble On” and Lenny Kravitz performed “Whole Lotta Love.” Heart closed with “Stairway to Heaven,” during which Robert Plant had tears in his eyes. All while then-President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle looked on. It’s pretty awesome. Watch it below.