John P. Filo/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights ReservedA special featuring highlights from the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors aired Tuesday night on CBS, with R&B, soul and pop legend Lionel Richie among those honored.
Stevie Wonder opened Lionel’s segment of the show with a rendition of “Easy,” Richie’s 1977 hit with the Commodores.
Country star Kenny Rogers — who scored a country and pop hit with the Richie-penned song “Lady” — recalled speaking with the prolific singer/songwriter for the first time over the phone.
“I said you know, if you’re not busy, I’d like you to come over and write a song for me,” Rogers recalled. After Richie told Rogers he was “very, very busy,” Rogers explained that the song was for his greatest hits album and would probably sell “five or six million [copies].”
“How’s tomorrow night at 7:30?” replied Richie.
More tributes followed, with country superstar Luke Bryan performing Richie’s hits, “Penny Lover” and “Sail On,” and British singer/songwriter Leona Lewis tackling “Say You Say Me” and “All Night Long.”
Also honored was was hip-hop pioneer LL Cool J. “Tonight we are witness to history — LL Cool J, one of the pioneers of hip-hop, is the Kennedy Center’s first hip-hop honoree,” Queen Latifah proudly announced, eliciting cheers from the audience.
The event took place in Washington, D.C. in early December.
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