On Sunday, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced its selection of five personalities for the 2014 Kennedy Center Honors. Recipients of the honors at the 37th annual national celebration of the arts were: soul-singer Al Green, actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks, ballerina Patricia McBride, singer-songwriter Sting, and comedienne Lily Tomlin.

The annual Honors Gala has progressively cultivated into the highpoint of the Washington cultural year. Speaking at the event, Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein stated, “The Kennedy Center celebrates five extraordinary individuals who have spent their lives elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world. Al Green’s iconic voice stirs our souls in a style that is all his own; Tom Hanks has a versatility that ranks him among the greatest actors of any generation; one of the world’s greatest ballerinas, Patricia McBride continues to carry forward her legacy for future generations; Sting’s unique voice and memorable songwriting have entertained audiences for decades; and from the days of her early television and theatrical appearances, Lily Tomlin has made us laugh and continues to amaze us with her acting talent and quick wit.”

Comedian Stephen Colbert hosted the three-hour ceremony, and kicked off the night on a light note, saying: “Tonight, Washington puts the arts above politics, because no matter what party you belong to, everyone wants a selfie with Tom Hanks”. The five honorees sat next to American president Barack Obama and the first lady in the opera house, as their contemporaries took the stage to commemorate their individual achievements. British musician Sting received the highest honor for his contributions to popular culture. He first shot to fame in the 1970s as the front man for legendary rock band ‘The Police’.

The Kennedy Center Honors are given out every year to those in the performing arts whose pains have been immortalized by their lifetime contributions to culture. The Honors have been presented ever since 1978, and have been held in Washington D.C. This year’s event will be televised on December 30th.