George Clooney, Gladys Knight and U2 Among Kennedy Center Honors

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The 45th Kennedy Center honorees include music royalty, an Oscar winner, and stars from across the world who made a name for themselves with their inspiring stories.

On Thursday, CBS Mornings exclusively broke the news about this year’s five Kennedy Center honorees who will be recognized for their lifetime artistic achievements.  

The Kennedy Center officially announced that Oscar-winning actor George Clooney, “The Empress of Soul” Gladys Knight, “The Queen of Christian Pop” Amy Grant, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and songwriter Tania León, and legendary rock group and humanitarians U2 -- which is comprised of members Bono, The Edge Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr -- will all be honored during this year’s ceremony in Washington, D.C. 

George Clooney
Kennedy Center

“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,” 61-year-old Clooney said in a statement to the Kennedy Center. "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.”    

Gladys Knight
Kennedy Center

Knight shared her excitement for the honor, stating, “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.” 

Kennedy Center

The 78-year-old GRAMMY winner added, “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.” 

Tania Leon
Kennedy Center

Meanwhile, U2 celebrated their achievement by reflecting on their first performance in the United States. “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,” the Irish band's statement read. "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 honors…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."

Amy Grant
Kennedy Center

The 45th Kennedy Center honors will take place on Sunday, Dec. 4, and will broadcast on CBS at a later date.  


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