George Clooney, Amy Grant, and Gladys Knight Among 45th Kennedy Center Honors Recipients

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Five honorees have been selected and announced for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ 45th annual Kennedy Center Honors. They are: Oscar-winning actor, filmmaker and philanthropist George Clooney; contemporary Christian pop singer Amy Grant; R&B/soul legend Gladys Knight; composer, conductor and educator Tania León and the members of Ireland’s iconic rock band U2.

Commenting on the 2022 honorees, Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement: “Whether saving humanity, masterminding a heist or captaining a ship in dangerous seas, actor George Clooney’s unique brand of earnest charisma and his complete embodiment of a character has led us to root for him every time.”

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Rubenstein cited multi-platinum singer-songwriter Amy Grant as “the first artist to bring contemporary Christian music to the forefront of American culture” before thriving in mainstream pop. She “today is revered as the ‘Queen of Christian Pop.'”

Knight, meanwhile, has 55 years in the spotlight behind her. A living legend and “Empress of Soul,” the chairman recounted how she “went from the Pips of Georgia to Grammy royalty, showcasing a boundless vocal range and soulfulness that has stood the test of time.”

He praised León, the young Cuban refugee-turned-Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and music ambassador as “brave.” She “has blessed America for more than five decades with her astoundingly original compositions and continues to be a major influence on classical music.”

Then, turning his attention to U2, Rubenstein closed his statement by celebrating them as “one of most influential rock bands of the modern rock era.” They “won over America and the world long ago with their iconic anthems, potent lyrics, and powerful messages of social justice and global citizenship—earning a musical legacy that crosses generations, inspires, and unites.”

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Deborah F. Rutter, Kennedy Center also commented on this year’s esteemed recipients, noting that “for nearly a half-century, the Kennedy Center Honors has represented the very best of America’s creative culture. The Honors is often referred to by past recipients as the pinnacle of awards because it recognizes not just one performance, album or film, but esteems an artist’s cumulative body of work and influence over many decades. This level of distinction is important. Through this holistic viewpoint, 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. Now, as the Center completes its year-long 50th anniversary celebration, I cannot help but think that the Kennedy Center’s namesake would surely smile at this celebration that brings us closer to his vision of ‘an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft.’”

The 45th annual Kennedy Center Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Television Network later this year as a two-hour primetime special and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

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