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The Kennedy Center Honors have been awarded annually since 1978 in Washington, D.C. for lifetime achievements in the performing arts. The ceremony is held in December, and in the weeks following, an edited, pre-taped version airs on CBS.



Yo-Yo Ma Kennedy Center Honors 2011 - Performance Tributes

Elmo's appearance at the Kennedy Center Honors

Yo-Yo Ma was among the recipients in 2011, along with Barbara Cook, Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond, and Sonny Rollins. A video montage honoring Ma included a brief clip of one of his Sesame Street appearances. Afterwards, Elmo introduced a musical tribute to Ma performed by friends and collaborators, with John Williams conducting. They then performed "Here Comes the Sun," with James Taylor. During which, Elmo could also be seen singing along with a children's choir.

The presentation aired on December 27, 2011, and was filmed December 4th.



Rita Moreno was an honoree for the 2015 ceremony. Gina Rodriguez narrated a clip retrospective on Moreno's life and career, which included excerpts of her guest appearance on The Muppet Show, and her role on The Electric Company. After a commercial break, Animal and Rosie Perez performed a re-enactment of "Fever" from Moreno's Muppet Show appearance.

The 2015 ceremony, filmed on December 6, was broadcast on December 29. Other recipients that year included George Lucas, Seiji Ozawa, Carole King, and Cicely Tyson. The ceremony also featured appearances by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Viola Davis and Sara Bareilles.


Big Bird, Elmo, and Abby Cadabby bear the Kennedy Center's rainbow-colored ribbons.

The Sesame Street characters and Muppet performers on the red carpet.

On July 18, 2019, Sesame Street was announced as an honoree, making it the first television program to receive the award. Sesame Workshop co-founders Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett appeared to accept the award on behalf of the show.[1]

The ceremony was held on December 8. The present Muppet performers and their characters wore yellow feathers in honor of Caroll Spinney (who had passed away on the same day). The Kennedy Center's tribute to Sesame Street was split into two parts of the broadcast, which aired on December 15.

The first half begins with an introductory speech by Lucy Liu, followed by a narrated montage on the history and impact of the show. Afterwards, Big Bird appears from the audience, looking for "Thanks," and finding his match in Tom Hanks. Big Bird tries to squeeze into Hanks' row to watch the show when the stage reveals Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and Cedric the Entertainer, who inform Big Bird that he's in the show. As Big Bird makes his way to the stage, Elmo and Abby go off to find him (Elmo: "Follow the feathers!"). Cedric introduces a montage of the show's various letter and number segments.

After a commercial break, the second half begins with Joseph Gordon-Levitt interacting with Cookie Monster. He then segues into a video montage of the show's teachings of life lessons. To demonstrate cooperation, Lucy Liu and Elmo take turns introducing Thomas Rhett. The other Muppets (including Ernie, Bert, and Grover) appear to accompany Rhett in a performance of "This Is My Street." The Muppet performers and other celebrities congregate onstage to perform "Sing." Finally, a dedication screen to Caroll Spinney is shown.

In addition to the core Muppet performers (Matt Vogel, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, Ryan Dillon, Eric Jacobson, Peter Linz, and David Rudman), assistant performers included Haley Jenkins (right-handing for Cookie Monster), Spencer Lott (Ernie's right-hand), and Paul McGinnis (puppeteering Grover). Molly Boylan was credited with writing "special material," and Ken Diego was an associate director on the broadcast.

In conjunction with the ceremony, a Sesame Street Sing-Along was held in the facilities the night prior, featuring appearances by Abby and Cookie Monster.

Other recipients of the 2019 award were Earth, Wind & Fire, Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt and Michael Tilson Thomas.[1] The ceremony was hosted by LL Cool J. Presenters and performers included Don Henley, Carrie Underwood, Kevin Kline, Emmylou Harris, Trisha Yearwood, Aaron Neville, Steven Spielberg, Pierce Brosnan, Debra Winger, Audra McDonald, David Foster, John Legend, Ne-Yo, and The Jonas Brothers. Sonia Manzano was also in attendance.

Honorees with Muppet connections


See also

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