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Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen and Usher Perform for Sting, Al Green at 2014's Kennedy Center Honors

by Shawn Christ   Dec 8, 2014 12:55 PM EST

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Sting, Al Green and Tom Hanks were among some of the artists who received recognition at last night's Kennedy Center Honors ceremony Dec. 7. The 2014 class also included ballerina Patricia McBride and comedian Lily Tomlin. Earth, Wind & Fire, Jennifer Hudson, Usher and Mavis Staples performed a few of Green's hits, while Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen celebrated Sting.

According to USA Today's coverage, Stephen Colbert opened the show by taking a respectful jab at politics and pop culture, which he is always ready to do.

"Tonight, Washington puts the arts above politics, because no matter what party you belong to, everyone wants a selfie with Tom Hanks," he said.

David Letterman honored Hanks with a few funny stories before director Steven Spielberg and actor Martin Short talked about the Hollywood giant.

"I see him as the hardest working actor I know," Spielberg said. "And he's also a good man. ... Tom's art comes completely from his heart."

Whoopi Goldberg was on hand for the Green tribute, saying the soul singer has a special way with lyrics. EWF performed Green's version of "I Can't Get Next to You" and his original classic "Love & Happiness." Jennifer Hudson took on 1972's "Simply Beautiful" while Usher sang "Let's Stay Together." Staples concluded the tribute with 1974's "Take Me to the River."

Meryl Streep kicked off Sting's celebration, and Lady Gaga came in soon after with 1993's "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You." Sting showed up for Springsteen's 2009 honor and performed "The Rising," so "The Boss" came last night to support his friend with 1996's "Hung My Head."

Carlos Santana, Billy Joel and Herbie Hancock were among the musical minds honored last year.

The 2014 Kennedy Center Honors will air Dec. 30 on CBS.

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