The 2014 Kennedy Center Honors will make a TV debut Tuesday night on CBS.
The ceremony, which taped in Washington, DC, earlier this month, finds Tom Hanks, Sting, Lily Tomlin, singer Al Green and ballerina Patricia McBride receiving this year's top awards.
Hosted by Stephen Colbert, the gala featured several additional star-studded guests paying tribute to the honorees.
Bruce Springsteen recognized Sting, noting, "Sting makes me feel like a musical Neanderthal. When we get together, we always have the same argument. He insists that there are more than three chords, while I insist that there are not. In an age of musical homogenization, no one has ever sounded or sang like my friend."
David Letterman paid tribute to Hanks as did director Steven Spielberg, who called the actor "America's favorite son" -- thanks to his work in such films as "Philadelphia," ''A League of Their Own," ''Forrest Gump," ''Apollo 13" and "Saving Private Ryan."
"Tom loves his country," Spielberg said.
Comedian Martin Short, meanwhile, headed up a musical tribute for Hanks, alongside military choirs and musicians.
President Barack Obama saluted the honorees, too, noting John F. Kennedy's appreciation for the role of arts in the United States.
"It's clear that the group on stage with me tonight understands what President Kennedy understood: that our art is a reflection of us not just as people, but as a nation. It binds us together," Mr. Obama said. "Songs and dance and film express our triumphs and our faults, our strengths, our tenderness in ways that sometimes words simply cannot do."
The 2014 Kennedy Center Honors will air Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.