Tom Hanks, Sting and Lily Tomlin bask at Kennedy Center Honors

Sun Dec 7, 2014 11:40pm EST
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By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hollywood stars, ballet dancers, and soul singers on Sunday celebrated Kennedy Center Honors winners actor Tom Hanks, singer-songwriter Sting and comedienne Lily Tomlin during Washington's high-profile tribute to excellence in the arts.

Ballerina Patricia McBride and singer Al Green completed the group of artists who sported the prestigious prize on a night of dance and song.

The evening began with a tribute to Green, whose hit tune "Let's Stay Together" drew political as well as artistic attention when President Barack Obama publicly crooned a few of its lines earlier in his presidency.

"I’ve been keeping his traditions alive," the president joked at a White House ceremony.

"He did a great job. He sounded better than me," Green told reporters ahead of the show, which featured spirited performances of his soulful music by singers Usher, Jennifer Hudson, and Earth Wind & Fire.

McBride, who worked for 28 years as a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, watched as some of her protégées glided across the stage in her honor.

"When I hung up the toe shoes I didn't look back, but I went forward. And I remember all my years with joy and wonder," she told reporters before the show.

Hanks represented the top Hollywood draw of the night.   Continued...

Actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson arrive for the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, December 7, 2014.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts