Dustin Hoffman, Led Zeppelin, David Letterman: Did These Artists Deserve the Kennedy Center Honor

On Sunday night, political wonks and cultural icons gathered together for the annual awarding of the Kennedy Center Honor. The award celebrates artists for a lifetime of achivement in the performing arts, and for their contribution to American culture. As the website states, "the primary criterion in the selection process is excellence." 

While the award is given to artists, it is uniquely tied to politics. President Obama and the first lady were in attendance at the event, as was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and David Axelrod. The medallions were presented Saturday at a State Department dinner hosted by Hillary Clinton

Below are the five artists honored this year. 

1. Buddy Guy

 

Eric Clapton calls Guy, "by far without a doubt the best guitar player alive." Guy is a blues musician and a pioneer of the Chicago blues sound. In the 1960s, Guy was a member of the band Muddy Waters, and throughout his career he has played alongside some of music's greats including Jimi Hendrix and B.B. King. 



2. Dustin Hoffman 


 

A staple of American cinema since 1967's The Graduate. Hoffman is certainly considered one of the best actors of our time. From Midnight Cowboy, to Kramer vs. Kramer, to Tootsie, Hoffman has starred in some of the most iconic films in recent memory.



3. David Letterman 


 

One of the most influential men in television, Letterman's Late Show with David Letterman is a late-night American staple. His current show has been going strong for 20 years with his Top 10 Lists, and Stupid Human Tricks being American comedy staples. 



4. Natalia Makarova


 

Soviet-born Makarova is a ballerina, choreographer and teacher. Coming to the U.S. in 1970, Makarova joined the American Ballet Theater where her performance in Giselle was considered "the gold-standard for her generation."



5. Led Zeppelin


 

One of the most influential rock groups in history. Think, "Stairway to Heaven," think "Whole Lotta Love," think "No Quarter." The award was given to the band's three living members John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant. 



What do you think? Are these the artists who deserved the award?

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Elena Sheppard

Elena is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Mic. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Time Out New York, The New York Times Upfront, ABC News, and various travel publications. She is also a Princeton alum, a former Thailand resident, and a Brooklyn native.

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