*On Sunday, December 2, 2012, at a star-studded celebration, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts paid tribute to the extraordinary talents of seven individuals who are the newest recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors who are recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts — whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television – and are selected by the Center’s Board of Trustees.
The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. Seated with the President of the United States and First Lady Michelle Obama, the Honorees were applauded by their peers and fans through performances and heartfelt tributes on the historic Kennedy Center Opera House Stage.
The 2012 recipients honored at the 35th annual national celebration of the arts included: bluesman Buddy Guy; actor and director Dustin Hoffman; comedian and television host David Letterman; ballerina Natalia Makarova; and rock band Led Zeppelin. While Led Zeppelin is being honored as a band, keyboardist/bassist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page, and singer Robert Plant each received the Kennedy Center Honors.
“With their extraordinary talent, creativity and tenacity, the seven 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees have contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world,” said Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts chairman David M. Rubenstein.
The annual Honors Gala has become the highlight of the Washington cultural year, and its broadcast on CBS – which is a high point of the television season — was produced by George Stevens Jr. and Michael Stevens and will include great performers from New York, Hollywood, and the arts capitals of the world.
An elegantly dressed President and Mrs. Obama welcomed the Honorees and members of the artists committee who nominated them, along with the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees at the White House prior to the gala performance. The 2012 Kennedy Center Honors Gala concludes with a post-gala supper dance in the Grand Foyer exclusively underwritten by The Boeing Company who also sponsored the gala luncheon. Delta Air Lines, the official airline of the Kennedy Center Honors television broadcast.
The Kennedy Center Honors medallions were presented on Saturday, December 1, the night before the gala, at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodman Clinton. The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Network for the 35th consecutive year as a two-hour primetime special on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT).
Kennedy Center president Michael M. Kaiser expressed the national cultural center’s continued gratitude to the many individuals involved in the success of the Honors program. “In addition to recognizing some of the world’s most treasured artists, the Kennedy Center Honors supports a wide variety of artistic programming, as well as the Center’s educational and national outreach efforts.”
President Obama described all of the honorees as artists who “inspired us to see things in a new way, to hear things differently, to discover something within us or to appreciate how much beauty there is in the world.”
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.