"His actions have overshadowed the very career accomplishments these distinctions from the Kennedy Center intend to recognize"
"The president and first lady have decided not to participate to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction," White House says
Singers perform medley of classics, including "We Shall Not Be Moved," "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There"
Vince Gill, Juanes, Steve Vai also chipped in at star-studded Kennedy Center Honors event
Inaugural slate of hip-hop culture programs to include poetry slams, breakdancing workshops, DJ Spooky's 'Rebirth of a Nation'
Singer performs "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" during ceremony's Carole King tribute
Band will instead be celebrated in 2016 after guitarist's intestinal surgery requires "lengthy recovery"
Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Mavis Staples and more paid tribute to Al Green at the event
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singers and 'Forrest Gump' actor honored for "elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world"
Snoop Dogg gets political elites to "hey" and "ho" as Billy Joel, Santana and Herbie Hancock are honored in D.C.
Herbie Hancock, Shirley MacLaine and opera star Martina Arroyo also chosen
Buddy Guy, David Letterman, Dustin Hoffman also honored
John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant will each receive honors
Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard, Bill T. Jones, Jerry Herman also honored at gala event