Led Zeppelin, Buddy Guy and David Letterman are going to be honored at the 35th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, along with actor Dustin Hoffman and ballerina Natalia Makarova. The ceremony will take place at the Kennedy Center Opera Stage in Washington, D.C. on December 2, and will air on CBS December 26 at 9 pm ET.
“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 Chairman David M. Rubenstein. “Buddy Guy is a titan of the blues and has been a tremendous influence on virtually everyone who has picked up an electric guitar in the last half century; Dustin Hoffman’s unyielding commitment to the wide variety of roles he plays has made him one of the most versatile and iconoclastic actors of this or any other generation; David Letterman is one of the most influential personalities in the history of television, entertaining an entire generation of late-night viewers with his unconventional wit and charm; Natalia Makarova’s profound artistry has ignited the stages of the world’s greatest ballet companies and continues to pass the torch to the next generation of dancers; and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant transformed the sound of rock and roll with their lyricism and innovative song structures, infusing blues into the sound of rock and roll and laying the foundation for countless rock bands.”
Some of the musicians to receive the honor in the past include: Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who, Neil Diamond, Diana Ross, Brian Wilson, Dolly Parton, Smokey Robinson, Elton John, Tina Turner and Paul Simon.
Unlike the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, honorees don’t perform at the Kennedy Center Honors; instead other artists perform their music for them. (The honorees sit with The President and The First Lady during the ceremony.) Past performances include John Mellencamp covering Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A.,” Dave Grohl and Norah Jones singing Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” and Chris Cornell of Soundgarden doing The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
According to the Kennedy Center, “The Honors recipients are recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts – whether in dance, music, 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. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; the selection process, over the years, has produced balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.”
– Brian Ives, CBS Local