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2017 Kennedy Center honorees

The Kennedy Center Honors, which spotlights today's leading pioneers in the arts, celebrated its 40th anniversary when it saluted this year’s recipients -- LL Cool J, Lionel Richie, Carmen de Lavallade, Gloria Estefan and Norman Lear -- on Dec. 3, 2017, on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage in Washington. An edited version of the ceremony will air Dec. 26 on CBS.

Carmen de Lavallade

2017 Kennedy Center Honoree Carmen de Lavallade attends
Photo Credit: AP / Invision / Greg Allen

2017 Kennedy Center Honoree Carmen de Lavallade attends the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors at the Kennedy Center on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock arrives for the 40th annual Kennedy
Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI

Herbie Hancock arrives for the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 3, 2017.

Nicole Richie

Nicole Richie attends the 40th annual Kennedy Center
Photo Credit: AP / Invision / Greg Allen

Nicole Richie attends the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors at The Kennedy Center on Dec. 3, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno arrives for the 40th annual Kennedy
Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI

Rita Moreno arrives for the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 3, 2017.

LL Cool J

Kennedy Center honoree LL Cool J attends the
Photo Credit: AP / Invision / Greg Allen

Kennedy Center honoree LL Cool J attends the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 3, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Norman Lear

Kennedy Center honoree Norman Lear attends the 40th
Photo Credit: AP / Invision / Greg Allen

Kennedy Center honoree Norman Lear attends the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 3, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria attends the 40th annual Kennedy Center
Photo Credit: AP / Invision /Greg Allen

Eva Longoria attends the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors at the Kennedy Center on Dec. 3, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Gloria Estefan

Kennedy Center honoree Gloria Estefan attends the 40th
Photo Credit: AP / Invision / Greg Allen

Kennedy Center honoree Gloria Estefan attends the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 3, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland attends the 40th annual Kennedy Center
Photo Credit: AP / Invision / Greg Allen

Misty Copeland attends the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors at the Kennedy Center on Dec. 3, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Lionel Richie

Kennedy Center honoree Lionel Richie attends the 40th
Photo Credit: AP / Invision / Greg Allen

Kennedy Center honoree Lionel Richie attends the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 3, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Leona Lewis

Leona Lewis attends the 40th annual Kennedy Center
Photo Credit: AP / Invision / Greg Allen

Leona Lewis attends the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors at the Kennedy Center on Dec. 3, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Carmen de Lavallade, Norman Lear, and Gloria Estefan

From left, Carmen de Lavallade, Norman Lear and
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Pool

From left, Carmen de Lavallade, Norman Lear and Gloria Estefan -- three of the five honorees at the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors -- after attending a pre-ceremony dinner hosted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department on Dec. 2, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Gloria and Emilio Estefan

Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio, arrive for
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Pool

Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio, arrive for the formal Artist's Dinner honoring the recipients of the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors hosted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department on Dec. 2, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Ondrea Smith and LL Cool J

LL Cool J and his mother, Ondrea Smith,
Photo Credit: AP / Kevin Wolf

LL Cool J and his mother, Ondrea Smith, arrive at the State Department for the Kennedy Center Honors gala dinner, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Washington.

Les Moonves and Julie Chen

Les Moonves and Julie Chen arrive at the
Photo Credit: AP / Kevin Wolf

Les Moonves and Julie Chen arrive at the State Department for the Kennedy Center Honors gala dinner, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Washington.

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Nicole Edmonds

Kenneth
Photo Credit: AP / Kevin Wolf

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Nicole Edmonds arrive at the State Department for the Kennedy Center Honors gala dinner, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Washington.

Lyn and Norman Lear

Norman Lear and his wife, Lyn, arrive for
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Pool

Norman Lear and his wife, Lyn, arrive for the formal Artist's Dinner honoring the recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department on Dec. 2, 2017, in Washington.

Anthony Anderson

Actor Anthony Anderson arrives at the State Department
Photo Credit: AP / Kevin Wolf

Actor Anthony Anderson arrives at the State Department for the Kennedy Center Honors gala dinner, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Washington.

LL Cool J and Simone Smith

LL Cool J and his wife, Simone Smith,
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Pool

LL Cool J and his wife, Simone Smith, arrive for the formal Artist's Dinner honoring the recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department on Dec. 2, 2017, in Washington.

2017 Kennedy Center Honorees

Front row from left, 2017 Kennedy Center Honorees
Photo Credit: AP / Kevin Wolf

Front row from left, 2017 Kennedy Center Honorees Carmen de Lavallade, Norman Lear, and Gloria Estefan, back row from left, LL Cool J, and Lionel Richie are photographed following the State Department dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Washington.

Lionel Richie

Kennedy Center Honoree Lionel Richie arrives with his
Photo Credit: AP / Kevin Wolf

Kennedy Center Honoree Lionel Richie arrives with his son, Miles Richie, left, girlfriend Lisa Parigi, second from right, and sister Deborah Richie, right, at the State Department for the Kennedy Center Honors gala dinner, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Washington.

LL Cool J

Kennedy Center Honoree LL Cool J arrives at
Photo Credit: AP / Kevin Wolf

Kennedy Center Honoree LL Cool J arrives at the State Department for the Kennedy Center Honors gala dinner, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Washington.

LL Cool J

Bay Shore native LL Cool J, born James
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Mike Coppola

Bay Shore native LL Cool J, born James Todd Smith, is best known for his music career -- including hip-hop classics like "Mama Said Knock You Out" and "Around the Way Girl" -- as well as being an actor and TV host. He splits his time between his homes in Manhasset and Los Angeles, where he stars in the CBS series "NCIS: Los Angeles." He is the first hip-hop artist to receive a Kennedy Center honor. "Landmark hip-hop artist LL Cool J taught the world how to rhyme as one of the pioneers of the hip-hop phenomenon," Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement.

Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie, both with The Commodores and as
Photo Credit: Getty Images for NARAS / Kevork Djansezian

Lionel Richie, both with The Commodores and as a solo artist, has topped the pop and R&B charts with hits ranging from ballads such as "Hello" and "Endless Love" to funk classics such as "Brick House." "Lionel Richie's irresistibly recognizable melodies capture the heart and transcend generations," Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement.

Gloria Estefan

Gloria Estefan, with the Miami Sound Machine and
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Gloria Estefan, with the Miami Sound Machine and as a solo artist, brought Latin music to the American mainstream with "Conga" and "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You." "International superstar Gloria Estefan has influenced American music through her infectious Miami sound," Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement.

Norman Lear

Norman Lear created a string of groundbreaking, successful
Photo Credit: AP

Norman Lear created a string of groundbreaking, successful American sitcoms, including "All in the Family," "The Jeffersons" and "Good Times." "Norman Lear spoke to the human condition and sparked poignant cultural conversations with some of the most epochal TV sitcoms of the 20th century," Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement.

Carmen de Lavallade

Carmen de Lavallade has appeared in movies including
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Carmen de Lavallade has appeared in movies including "Carmen Jones," as well as numerous ballets written just for her, making her Broadway debut in Truman Capote's "House of Flowers." "Carmen de Lavallade is a national treasure whose elegance and talent as a dancer led to a career touching many art forms," Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement.

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