Five artists to receive Kennedy Center Honors this year.
Top performers from Hollywood, Broadway and Washington have gathered to honor five artists who will receive this year's Kennedy Center Honors. Tom Hanks, Lily Tomlin, singer Al Green and ballerina Patricia McBride will join Sting in receiving the arts prize.
Heralded as a musical genius who rose from a British shipyard hometown to make his mark, Sting will receive the nation's highest honor for influencing American culture through the arts.
He has been performing for four decades and has won 16 Grammy Awards.
Sting, 63, says he was bewildered by the honor.
Filmmaker George Stevens Jr., who created the Kennedy Center Honors and produces the show each year, said Hanks, 58, stands apart as "one of the great actors of his generation or any generation."
Tomlin, 75, made her career in comedy after moving to New York City as a waitress. Tomlin went on to create memorable comedy specials, Broadway shows and movie roles. Tomlin said she couldn't believe she was receiving the Kennedy Center Honors.
Green, 68, was born in Arkansas. He made his name touring the gospel circuits of the South and now is one of the defining voices of Memphis soul.
McBride, 72, has forged her artistic career in dance. She joined the New York City Ballet at 16 after studying under the great choreographer George Balanchine and quickly became the company's youngest principal dancer at 18. A role she held on for 28 years.
Dancer Edward Villella hailed McBride as "one of our great national dance treasures.
President Barack Obama saluted the honorees Sunday at the White House before a gala performance in their honor hosted by Stephen Colbert.