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Watch tonight: LL Cool J and Lionel Richie are celebrated during 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors event


L-R: LL Cool J, Robert Voets/©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc; Lionel Richie, Dirk Vanoucek/Courtesy of The Kennedy Center HonorsA special featuring highlights from the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors airs tonight on CBS and among the artists honored are Lionel Richie and LL Cool J

The event took place in Washington, D.C. in early December.

As previously reported, LL, born James Smith, became the first rapper to ever receive the prestigious distinction. He posted several pictures on Instagram about his experience at the ceremony. 

“An unforgettable evening… I will remember and cherish this honor for the rest of my life. Thank you to the performers tonight. I am honored and humbled,” he wrote in one photo caption.  

Richie also posted a handful of Kennedy Center event pictures on his Instagram

In the caption of a photo showing the singer behind a podium, he writes, “If I can leave the legacy of love and passion in the world then I’ve done my job… Love is the answer. #KCHonors.” 

Lionel’s daughter Nicole Richie and Queen Latifah both acknowledged Lionel Richie and LL Cool J during the esteemed ceremony, respectively. 

In addition, country music superstar Luke Bryan pays tribute to fellow American Idol judge Lionel Richie, while Busta Rhymes does the same for LL during the broadcast. 

Singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan, legendary TV writer-producer Norman Lear and renowned dancer-choreographer Carmen de Lavallade [LAAH-vaah-laahd] are also included in the Kennedy Center Honors Class of 2017. 

Each year, the star-studded affair salutes leading performers whose contributions in the arts helped shape American culture. 

Tune in to the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors tonight at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. 

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