The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington will bestow the Kennedy Center Honors, the highest award in the U.S. for a performer, to five recipients Sunday for their lifetime contributions to the arts.
This year’s honorees, announced last summer, include LL Cool J – the first hip-hop artist to receive the prestigious award.
The other honorees are television writer and producer Norman Lear, singers Gloria Estefan and Lionel Richie and dancer Carmen de Lavallade.
They will be honored at a gala featuring performances by top entertainers. The ceremony, which will not be televised until December 26, has historically been a secret event. The honorees are unaware which artists will pay tribute to them, only that their careers will be celebrated.
The affair is traditionally attended by the president and first lady, who have also traditionally hosted a pre-gala reception at the White House. But this year things will be different. Lear and de Lavallade said months ago they would boycott the reception due to their opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump.
The White House subsequently issued a statement saying Trump decided not to participate in this year’s activities “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.