2022 Kennedy Center honorees including actor George Clooney, contemporary Christian and pop singer-songwriter Amy Grant, singer Gladys Knight, Cuban-born American composer, conductor and educator Tania Leon, U2 band members Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., Adam Clayton, pose for a group photo with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Kennedy Center board members during the reception for Kennedy Center honorees ahead of the official gala at the State Department in Washington, DC– Collected Photo
Actor George Clooney, singer-songwriter Amy Grant, singer Gladys Knight, composer Tania León and rock group U2 were celebrated on Sunday for their contributions to the arts at a White House reception and a music-filled Kennedy Center Honors show.
The Kennedy Center event, now in its 45th year, recognizes stars from music, stage and screen for their contributions to American culture.
At a reception for the five honorees at the White House, President Joe Biden addressed each artist personally, praising their individual talents and saying they embodied the spirit of the country. “Tonight, we celebrate a truly exceptional ... group of artists who embody the very spirit of ‘We the People,’” Biden said.
The room was packed with celebrities, the White House’s second star-studded event in recent days.
Actors Julia Roberts and Matt Damon were seated next to each other, in front of journalist Katie Couric. Former Washington, D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, who was beaten defending the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was seated next to singer Eddie Vedder in the front row.
The show highlighted the five artists’ work, and represented a return to the times before the coronavirus pandemic began; on Sunday night, there was no requirement for testing or masking to attend, though many continue to die of the disease in the United States. Clooney, an actor and filmmaker who played a doctor on the popular NBC television show “ER” before launching a movie career that earned him two Academy Awards, said becoming a Kennedy Center honoree was a little daunting. Grant rose to prominence as a contemporary Christian music singer who later crossed over to pop stardom, amassing six Grammy Awards.
Singers Sheryl Crow, Brandi Carlile, CeCe Winans and BeBe Winans were among the artists who celebrated Grant with a selection of her songs.
Knight, who has won seven Grammy Awards, is famous for hit songs including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Midnight Train to Georgia” as the lead singer of The Pips, which became Gladys Knight & The Pips in 1962.
The final tribute of the evening went to Irish band U2 which, with members Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., has won 22 Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.