LL Cool J served as host at the gala which took place at the Kennedy Center Opera House. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump did not attend the event after missing the past two installments.
The Kennedy Center Honors celebrates performers and their lifetime contributions. Each honoree was awarded a medallion and given a special presentation onstage.
Sesame Street is the first television show to be honored at the event. The co-founders of the long-running children's program Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett accepted the honor on behalf of the show and all the artists who worked on it.
Sesame Street characters Big Bird, Elmo, Ernie and Bert, Cookie Monster and Abby were also in attendance. Puppeteer Caroll Spinney, who was behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, was remembered after he died on Sunday at the age of 85.
Carrie Underwood paid tribute to Ronstadt, a fellow singer, by performing Roy Orbison song, "Blue Bayou," followed by "When Will I Be Loved."
John Legend, The Jonas Brothers, Ne-Yo and Cynthia Ervio performed in tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire with the band joining the other singers onstage for a rendition of "September" to close out the show.
The ceremony will be aired on CBS on Dec. 15.