Green will be honored alongside comedian Lily Tomlin, ballerina Patricia McBride, actor Tom Hanks and and Sting.
“The Kennedy Center celebrates five extraordinary individuals who have spent their lives elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world,” Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement. “Al Green’s iconic voice stirs our souls in a style that is all his own; Sting’s unique voice and memorable songwriting have entertained audiences for decades.”
The honorees will be celebrated in a ceremony at the White House on Sunday before the official event Sunday at the Kennedy Center Opera House.
Born in Dansby, Arkansas, on April 13, 1946, Al Green rose to fame with hits like 1971’s “Let’s Stay Together” and “Love and Happiness.”
His love for music began at a young age, when he was a member of his family’s gospel group, the Greene Brothers. He toured the country with the band, singing Christian music until he was kicked out for listening to secular music.
Greene then founded the Creations, a group which later became Al Greene and the Soul Mates. The Soul Mates only had one hit though and once they broke up Greene decided to drop the last “e” in his name and go out on his own.
In 1971, Green sung a popular cover of The Temptations’ “I Can’t Get Next to You, which catapulted him into a stardom which was solidified with “Let’s Stay Together” and “I’m Still in Love with You.”
While at the height of his career, Green took a short break to focus on religion and became a reverend. Green neglected his career, choosing to only sing gospel music for a short time in the 80’s before returning to the music scene in 1988 and being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
Though Green will be honored on Sunday, the 37th Annual Kennedy Center Honors won’t be broadcast until December 30th on CBS.