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LL Cool J and Lionel Richie receive esteemed Kennedy Center Honors distinction

CBS/John Filo
CBS/John Filo

(WASHINGTON D.C.) — LL Cool J and Lionel Richie were among the honorees at this year’s Kennedy Center Honors event, which took place in Washington, D.C. Sunday.  

LL, born James Smith, who became the first rapper to ever receive the prestigious distinction, posted several pictures on Instagram about his experience at the ceremony. “An unforgettable evening… I will remember and cherish this honor for the rest of my life. Thank you to the performers tonight. I am honored and humbled,” he writes in one photo caption. 

Richie also posted a handful of Kennedy Center event pictures on his Instagram. In the caption of a photo showing the singer behind a podium, he writes, “If I can leave the legacy of love and passion in the world then I’ve done my job… Love is the answer. #KCHonors.”  

Both Nicole Richie and Queen Latifah acknowledged Lionel Richie and LL Cool J, respectively. Nicole cheekily referred to her dad’s hit song “Hello,” saying, “When he answers his phone, he doesn’t say ‘Hello’ — he screams, ‘Showtime!’ And I’m not exaggerating,” while Queen Latifah acknowledged LL as being “the Kennedy Center’s first hip-hop honoree.” 

Singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan, legendary TV writer-producer Norman Lear and renowned dancer-choreographer Carmen de Lavallade are also included in the Kennedy Center Honors Class of 2017. Each year, the star-studded affair salutes leading performers whose contributions in the arts helped shape American culture. 

The 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors will air Tuesday, December 26 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.

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