At the 45th Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., on Sunday night, this year’s honorees showed up in style — and then some. Honoree George Clooney proudly wore his sash alongside wife Amal Clooney.
Honoree Gladys Knight was a bright spot in her red ensemble. “Music is that kind of thing that can really bring glue to all of us,” she told PEOPLE on the red carpet of her career
The men of U2 —Adam Clayton, Bono, The Edge and Larry Mullen Jr. — became just the fifth musical group honored by the Kennedy Center, according to presenter LL Cool J.
Cuban American composer Tania León was another of the night’s honorees, celebrated for her groundbreaking musical work. “When I got the call from the Kennedy Center, I was ready to say, ‘Are you sure it’s me?’ ” the Pulitzer Prize winner recently told NPR. “I have never put my name into any competition, so they have been real surprises to me.”
Rounding out this year’s winners was singer Amy Grant, who had longtime husband Vince Gill by her side. “She is a generous hearted person,” singer-songwriter Ellie Holcomb said of her friend on the red carpet. “That’s just the way that she lives her life, seeing people and helping people feel seen and that their story matters, too.”
The night’s host and hostess, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, made an all-dressed-up entrance.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff also made it a glam night out.
Julia Roberts, one of the night’s presenters, wore a custom Moschino gown featuring pictures of her pal, honoree George Clooney.
Ariana DeBose helped honor Gladys Knight; on the red carpet, she told PEOPLE the singer’s voice “changed my world.”
Brandi Carlile, with wife Catherine Shepherd, helped celebrate honoree Amy Grant. “The way Amy Grant has really come out and publicly supported LGBTQ people, it’s been really healing and life-affirming,” Carlile told PEOPLE. “It’s the least I can do to be here tonight and honor her for taking some heat.”
Singer-songwriter Ellie Holcomb was also in D.C. for honoree Amy Grant, telling PEOPLE she knew her from the time she was a little girl thanks to her father Brown Bannister’s producing partnership with Grant.
Singer CeCe Winans donned a patchwork gown for her walk down the red carpet.
On the red carpet, Bono planted one on his wife of 40 years, Ali Hewson.
Snapped in the crowd, Trisha Yearwood was at the ceremony to honor Gladys Knight, while Garth Brooks introduced George Clooney. “George Clooney is art,” the country star said. “And art not only connects us. It binds us.”
Musical legend Herbie Hancock, a past honoree, helped introduce George Clooney.
Don Cheadle, also at the ceremony to talk about George Clooney, walked the red carpet with wife Bridgid Coulter.
Eddie Vedder, with wife Jill Vedder, performed U2’s “Elevation” and “One Love” toward the end of the ceremony.
Irish musician Hozier closed the night with a rendition of “Walk On” that featured attendees like Brandi Carlile, Jamala and Sheryl Crow.
Representing the Kennedy family at the event, Joe Kennedy III (son of Joseph Kennedy II and grandson of Robert F. Kennedy) and wife Lauren Anne Birchfield.
Katie Couric — who is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer — popped in her pink dress and sparkly bag.
A past honoree, LL Cool J helped introduce U2.
Matt Damon, with wife Luciana Damon by his side, was another of the A-listers tasked with touting George Clooney.
Sesame Street's Big Bird — himself a past Kennedy Center honoree! — walked the red carpet with journalist Major Garrett.
Country star Mickey Guyton turned heads in her red gown.
Inside the ceremony, Sacha Baron Cohen — with wife Isla Fisher — slipped back into his Borat character and took a moment to address recent anti-Semitic remarks and sentiments by a number of public figures.
Patti LaBelle also celebrated Gladys Knight, saying of her friend, “I am so happy for you. Because you are doing the thing that I want to do. God knows you’re phenomenal. I am honored to honor you.”
Sheryl Crow helped close the night with U2’s “Walk On.”
Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was joined by her husband Paul Pelosi, seen in public for the first time since he was attacked at the couple’s San Francisco home earlier in the fall.
In the crowd, Julia Roberts sat between husband Danny Moder and Matt Damon.
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