History of the Kennedy Center Honors

Since its inception in 1978, the Kennedy Center Honors has redefined America's perception of its artistic legacy and reinvented the way this nation rewards its artists. The Honors have been compared to a knighthood in Britain, or the French Legion of Honor--the quintessential reward for a lifetime's endeavor. At the same time, the annual addition of new names to the roster of Honors recipients charts the international standard of excellence set by America's artists, as well as the aesthetic inspiration provided by artists of other nations who have achieved prominence on these shores.

The annual Honors gala is an evening without categories, without disappointments, and without competition. And the Honors telecast, aired during the week between Christmas and New Year's, is a perennial Emmy nominee. It serves for millions of American arts lovers as the year's crowning event, paying tribute to our nation's preeminent artists with performances by the great stars of today who have followed in their footsteps. The complete list of guest performers is kept secret until the show is in progress, keeping both the Honorees and the nation on the edge of their seats.

2015 Kennedy Center Honors Executive Producers: Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss, White Cherry Entertainment

Founding Producer: George Stevens Jr.

Past Kennedy Center Honorees

Throughout the years, the Kennedy Center Honors has upheld a tradition of recognizing the lifelong accomplishments and extraordinary talents of our nations' most-prestigious artists. Find out more about past Honorees by clicking on a name below.