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Tonight, CBS will broadcast the Kennedy Center Honors, which were filmed on December 3. The event will air this evening, Tuesday, from 9pm to 11pm ET on CBS.
This marks the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy Center Honors, and for the first time in over two decades, the sitting president did not attend the event.
The White House made the announcement that Trump and the First Lady would not be in attendance after several of the Kennedy Center honorees said they would boycott the reception at the White House. Trump said that he was passing on the event “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”
In response to his bowing out, Kennedy Center officials released a statement that said they were “grateful” the president and the First Lady chose to avoid conflict. The statement read, “In choosing not to participate in this year’s honor’s activities, the administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the honorees.”
Though the Kennedy Center Honors were taped on December 3, they will air tonight, with opening remarks made by Caroline Kennedy, the only surviving child of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. CNN reports that Caroline Kennedy’s speech will touch upon the current sociopolitical climate. Caroline Kennedy will also touch upon the duty of an artist, to “remain true to himself, and let the chips fall where they may.”
The 2017 honorees include singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan, musician and producer Lionel Richie, television producer Norman Lear, rapper and actor LL Cool J, and musician and producer Lionel Richie.
Cool J’s award marks the first time a rapper has been chosen to receive the honor.
Luke Bryan will be presenting Lionel Richie’s awards. The two performed together in 2013 at a CMT Artists of the Year event, and won a CMT Music Award for their mashup of Richie’s “Oh No” and “All Night.”
And what exactly are the Kennedy Center Honors, for those watching for the first time? Each year, The Kennedy Center Honors are awarded to a select few accomplished individuals who have dedicated their lives to the performing arts. The tradition first started in 1978, and concludes with a gala at the Kennedy Center Opera House. Glenn Close hosted the event in 2013, and Stephen Colbert has hosted since 2014. He will host again this evening.