On Sunday, George Clooney, Amy Grant, Gladys Knight, Tania León, and U2 were honored for their artistic contributions at a White House reception and the Kennedy Center Honors show.
In its 45th year, the Kennedy Center event honors music, theater, and film stars for their contributions to American culture.
At a White House reception for the five honorees before the ceremony, Vice President Joe Biden praised their talents and said they embodied the spirit of the nation.
Biden stated, "To see each other, to see ourselves in each other, and to unite in a common cause - tonight we honor a truly exceptional... group of artists."
The room was packed with celebrities; this was the second star-studded event at the White House in recent days.
Julia Roberts and Matt Damon were seated next to one another in front of Katie Couric, the journalist. Michael Fanon, a former Washington, D.C. police officer who was injured defending the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, was seated next to Eddie Vedder in the front row.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul, who has been recuperating after being attacked in their San Francisco home in October, received a standing ovation when they appeared on a balcony inside the Kennedy Center opera house where the show was held.
The exhibition featured the work of five artists and marked a return to a time before the coronavirus pandemic; on Sunday night, there was no requirement for testing or masking to attend, even though hundreds had died of the disease in the United States during the previous week. Clooney, an actor, and director who played a doctor on the popular NBC television series "ER" before launching a film career that earned him two Academy Awards stated that being honored by the Kennedy Center was somewhat intimidating.
"I grew up in a small town in Kentucky and watched it on television," Clooney said of the Kennedy Center Honors, referring to previous winners Jimmy Stewart and Robert Redford. This is a fascinating fraternity to join.
Roberts and Nick Clooney's father, along with actors Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, and Richard Kind, honored the director on the Kennedy Center stage. "George's best and most significant work is yet to come," said his father.
Roberts, who has co-starred with Clooney in multiple films, wore a floor-length gown with framed images of him to the awards.
Grant rose to prominence as a contemporary Christian music singer before transitioning to pop stardom and accumulating six Grammy Awards.
She stated on the red carpet at the Kennedy Center before the performance, "I feel giddy." She stated, "I owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who has worked with me over the past four decades." Everything requires a village
Sheryl Crow, Brandi Carlile, CeCe Winans, and BeBe Winans were among the artists who performed a selection of Grant's songs to honor her.
Knight, who has won seven Grammy Awards, is renowned for hits such as "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "Midnight Train to Georgia" as the lead singer of The Pips, which later became Gladys Knight & The Pips.
Speaking onstage about Knight, actor LL Cool J remarked, "She connects with you on a deeper, spiritual level." Garth Brooks and Patti LaBelle, among others, have performed some of Knight's songs.
León, a Cuban-born conductor, and composer whose orchestral piece "Stride" won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Music was born in Cuba.
U2, comprised of Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr., has received 22 Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.