The Kennedy Center Honors have been awarded annually, since 1978 by the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The honorees are recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts. Nominations are made to the Board of Trustees by past honorees and members of the center's national artists committee. For the 2004 Honors, recommendations came from Dan Aykroyd, Christine Baranski, Angela Bassett, Joshua Bell, Adrien Brody, Dave Brubeck, Cy Coleman, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Douglas, Suzanne Farrell, Renee Fleming, Morgan Freeman, Rosemary Harris, Paloma Herrera, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nathan Lane, Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Pinchas Zukerman. The awards are given at a United States Department of State dinner held the night before the annual Honors Gala at the Kennedy Center Opera House. A White House reception is also given in their honor. The ceremony is recorded during the first weekend of December and is not telecast live. Edited versions are currently shown on CBS.
Singer Al Green; actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks; ballerina Patricia McBride; singer-songwriter Sting; and comedienne Lily Tomlin will receive honors for 2014 on The 37th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, to be broadcast Tuesday, Dec. 30 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. CBS has broadcast the special each year since its debut 37 years ago.
The 2013 Kennedy Center Honorees are opera singer Martina Arroyo; pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, and composer Herbie Hancock; pianist, singer, and songwriter Billy Joel; actress Shirley MacLaine; and musician Carlos Santana.