On Tuesday night, the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors premiered on NBC and it did not disappoint.
Noticeably absent was President Trump and his wife, Melania, who chose not to attend so that the attendees could enjoy the evening without any political interruptions.
All Night Long
The event kicked off with a riveting speech from Caroline Kennedy, the late President John F. Kennedy's daughter. She quoted her father by encouraging all the nominees to "stay true to yourself and let the chips fall where they may."
Each honoree was given their own presentation that highlighted their careers and contributions to the entertainment industry.
Television writer and political activist Norman Lear was given a spoken tribute by director J.J. Abrams and comedian Dave Chappelle. Lear was the writer for the hit shows The Jeffersons, Good Times, and All in the Family. Lear's musical tribute came from Rob Reiner, Rachel Bloom, Anthony Anderson, and Kenya Barris, who each paid tribute to his television shows.
Singer Gloria Estefan was honored by actress Eva Longoria and actor John Secada. Estefan was then treated to covers of her hits "1,2,3," "Coming Out of The Dark," "Mi Tierra," "Reach," and "Conga" from various artists such as haka Khan, Becky G, and her daughter Emily Estefan.
Dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade was honored by her former student, actress Meryl Streep and ballet dancer, Misty Copeland. Copeland later returned to the stage with Tony nominee Robert Fairchild to perform a dance piece to the song, "Bill," that was sung by Rebecca Luker. Dancers Bradon Victor Dixon, Stella Abrera, Matthew Rushing, Linda Celeste Sims, and Alicia Graf Mack also performed pieces for De Lavallade as well.
Grammy-award winner Lionel Richie was honored by his daughter Nicole Richie, singer Kenny Rogers, and music mogul and friend, Quincy Jones. Richie was celebrated musically by fellow Motown artist Stevie Wonder, who sang Richie's hit singles, "Easy" and "Hello." Singer Luke Bryan sang "Penny Lover" and "Sail On," while Leona Lewis brought the house down with Richie's R&B classic "All Night Long."
Last but certainly not least, rapper-actor LL Cool J was recognized by friend and former costar Queen Latifah and The Roots member Questlove. The rapper was then honored by some of hip-hop's greatest artists including Busta Rhymes, MC Lyte, and Darryl D.M.C. McDaniels who performed the rapper's greatest hits such as "Momma Said Knock You Out," "I'm Bad," and "Rock The Bells."
The star-studded evening ended with a reprise from Richie and the rest of the honorees singing "All Night Long."