More on the Kennedy Center Honors

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2022-07-29)

1978. U2 were just getting their start in Dublin, when The Kennedy Center established their first Kennedy Center Honors. The annual gala and awards celebrate the “international standard of excellence set by America’s artists, as well as the aesthetic inspiration provided by artists of other nations who have achieved prominence on these shores.” The award recognizes living individuals who have made significant contributions to American culture through the performing arts. The Honors are given out this year on December 4, 2022.

This year U2 is one of five honorees for The Kennedy Center Honors, joining actor George Clooney, singer Amy Grant, conductor and educator Tania Leon, and singer Gladys Knight.

They join international musicians Joni Mitchell, Sting, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, The Who, Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti and others as past honorees. The awards have celebrated a wealth of talent through the years including musicians, actors, writers and artists. U2 collaborators receiving the award in the past include Frank Sinatra (1983), Ray Charles (1986), B.B. King (1995), Johnny Cash (1996), Bob Dylan (1997), Willie Nelson (1998), Stevie Wonder (1999), Quincy Jones (2001), Luciano Pavarotti (2001), Elton John (2004), Tina Turner (2005), Tony Bennett (2005), Bruce Springsteen (2009), and Paul McCartney (2010).

After the announcement of the award, U2 shared with the Awards committee, “In December 1980, we made our first trip across the Atlantic to America. Our first show was at The Ritz in New York City, the second, The Bayou in D.C. We had big dreams then, fueled in part by the commonly held belief at home that America smiles on Ireland. And it turned out to be true, yet again. But even in the wilder thoughts, we never imagined that 40 years on, we would be invited back to receive one of the nation’s greatest honours…It has been a four-decade love affair with the country and its people, its artists, and culture. We consider America to be a home away from home and we are very grateful to the Kennedy Center Honors for welcoming us into this great clan of extraordinary artists.”

The show is televised each year, and often features musical acts paying tribute to the honorees. You will likely see guests performing the music of U2 during the awards. The list of guest performers is kept secret until the show is in progress.

How does one become an honoree? You are nominated. This year’s nomination process happened early in the year, and we here at U2Songs.com were asked to participate by a fan who was putting together a submission. Sadly we were unable to participate at that time. It may not be the only submission nominating U2 for the award, but we can share a few thoughts by Tracy Selzer who approached us when she was putting her nomination for U2 together.

What made you decide to nominate U2 for the award?

I felt that it’s something was long overdue for them, and looked at the roster of folks selected in previous years…my thinking was “Why not” let’s go for it. Their relationship and body of work with America to me defines the basis of what being selected for the Kennedy Center Honors is.

How much work was it to put the whole nomination together?

There was a process of submitting on the direct Kennedy Center site to nominate and then hard copies were sent to them directly.

What were your thoughts when you heard about the nomination today?

I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. U2 has been a part of our lives for a good many years and seeing them getting selected for such a prestigious honor brought a great sense of joy. I had a big smile on my face all day.

The Kennedy Center Honors typically have other acts interpreting the music of those being honored. Who would you like to see cover U2?

Great question…let’s see….Bruce Springsteen, David Byrne, Paul McCartney and a gospel choir to accompany a performance of “I Still Haven’t Found…”. Hard to list just a few…

Bono recently named his Desert Island Discs. If you had one U2 album you could take with you to a desert island which would it be?

No Line On The Horizon and the first song I’d play would be “Moment of Surrender”.

How were you aware of the Kennedy Center Honors?

I’m a Kennedy Center member and aware of the annual award ceremony. It’s exciting to see who the lucky 5 are that are selected each year. The 2022 class is wonderful – I love the diversity!

As the awards get closer we’ll remind you that they are airing. Many thanks to Tracy for inviting fans to be part of the nomination process for this award and for taking some time to answer our questions. And join the team here in congratulating U2 on the Kennedy Center Honor.

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