The Kennedy Center Honors announced a historic crop of honorees for 2017 on Thursday, including the first Cuban American, singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan, and the first hip-hop artist, LL Cool J, to earn the distinction.
In a humble statement about the induction, LL Cool J (born James Todd Smith) told the Times he is proud to help “knock the door down for a new genre.” “To be able to come from the corner of Farmers Boulevard in Queens, banging on a garbage can, all the way to the Kennedy Center Honors, that’s a long journey.”
While, Estefan said she is eager to speak directly with Trump (who will be sitting alongside the honorees) to “make clear and express” her views, particularly on immigration. “As a proud immigrant of this country, it’s very important for me that you see the wonderful contributions we have made. We have seen a lot of anti-immigrant backlash this year, so for us, it may hold even more beauty than for someone who has lived here all their lives. To get this kind of award is so American.”
Rounding out the honorees are renowned actress, dancer, choreographer and Los Angeles native Carmen de Lavallade; television living legend Norman Lear; and music legend Lionel Richie. The 40th annual Honors ceremony, set for Sunday, December 3rd 2017.
“The Kennedy Center Honors spotlights the extraordinary careers of five artists whose talent and ingenuity have enriched and shaped cultural life in America,” Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement.
Kennedy Center Honors recipients are recognized for their lifelong contributions to the performing arts, including dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures or television.
The 40th annual Honors ceremony, set for Sunday, December 3rd 2017 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington DC, which CBS will broadcast Dec. 26.