5 Unforgettable Moments from Kennedy Center Honors

By Jasmine Lee

John P. Filo / CBS

What makes the Kennedy Center Honors so special?

It’s about artists celebrating artists, no competition, no winners or losers, just artists paying homage to the legends that have influenced them throughout their careers. Just as the audience watches from the crowd or at home in front of the TV, Kennedy Center Honors gives artists the chance to simply say “thank you” to the Honorees in the most fitting way: in style.

The Honorees can see firsthand how influential their artistic achievements have been on both their peers and fans.

Here’s a small sample of the memorable moments the Kennedy Center has brought to the stage over the past 39 years.

Beyoncé Pays Tribute to Barbra Streisand

Queen Bey has graced the Honors stage twice, once for Tina Turner in 2005 and once for Barbra Streisand in 2008. In this clip, she sang one of Barbra’s signature songs, The Way We Were. From the first notes, Beyoncé’s moving rendition captivated the crowd.

Bruno Mars Showcases the Talent of Sting’s Songwriting

When you think of a musician like the versatile Sting, it’s hard to imagine who can do his music justice. The genre-bending Bruno Mars was more than up to the task at the 2014 Honors ceremony. By the time the cast of Sting’s musical The Last Ship joins Mars on stage, the whole audience is ready to jump to their feet and Sting looks on so incredibly proud.

Heart Members Nancy and Ann Wilson and Jason Bonham Honor the Legacy of Led Zeppelin

Without question, Led Zeppelin is one of the greatest and most influential rock bands of all time. They have influenced many with their albums including the women of Heart. What made this performance from the 2012 ceremony enough to bring member Robert Plant to tears went beyond the talented rendition of their most famous song. On the drums, is Jason Bonham the son of the deceased Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. The performance was profound and powerful.

Chevy Chase’s Grand Entrance to Recognize Bob Hope

There’s no better way to honor Bob Hope’s legacy in comedy than by starting his tribute off with a laugh. From the moment he steps on stage at the 1985 ceremony, Chevy Chase had the crowd in stitches as he spoke about the influence Bob had on him and so many other comedians.

Beth Hart and Jeff Beck Pay Tribute to Buddy Guy’s Influence on Generations of Musicians

With over 60 years in the music industry, Buddy Guy’s soulful voice and powerful guitar playing have influenced artists from Prince to Eric Clapton to Jimi Hendrix. He married blues and rock and roll to create a sound that resonates every time it’s heard. Beth Hart and Jeff Beck perform a moving rendition of I’d Rather Go Blind at the 2012 Honors that brought tears to the audience’s eyes.

Explore more memorable Kennedy Center Honors videos in our newly created video gallery and be sure to tune into CBS on December 27 at 9/8c to watch the 39th annual Kennedy Center Honors.