Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J headline the 40th Kennedy Center Honors class

(Graphics and photo property of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts)

By: Jacob Elyachar,

The Kennedy Center Honors are turning 40-years-old this December!

To celebrate this milestone, five of the biggest names in music, dance, and television will be recognized for their contribution to American culture.

The Kennedy Center Honors committee selected five outstanding individuals to join this prestigious club which has icons such as Lucille Ball, Ray Charles, Johnny Carson, Sir Elton John, Carole King, Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, and Sir John Williams among its ranks.  Joining this prestigious group this December will be Gloria Estefan, Lionel Richie, LL Cool J, Norman Lear, and Carmen de Lavallade.

Jake’s Take breaks down the five artists who will receive the Kennedy Center Honors from President Trump at the end of the year.

Gloria Estefan: There are two women named Gloria that I hold in very high regard. One of them is my mother, the fabulous Gloria Matzdorff Elyachar, and the other is the impeccable Gloria Estefan. Mrs. Estefan is the first Cuban-American to be honored by the Kennedy Center. The seven-time Grammy winner has sold over 100 million records worldwide by herself and with the Miami Sound Machine. Her songbook holds infectious international hits such as “Conga,” “1-2-3,” “Turn the Beat Around,” “Coming Out of the Dark,” “Party Time,” “Reach,” and “Get on Your Feet.” In addition to musical achievements, Ms. Estefan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Also, the jukebox musical, On Your Feet, focuses on the story of Gloria and her husband, Emilio Estefan.

Lionel Richie: For almost 50 years, Lionel Richie has entertained generations of fans around the world with his outstanding talents. No matter if he recorded music with the Commodores or as a solo artist, Lionel Richie has left audience “Dancing on the Ceiling.” Like Ms. Estefan, Mr. Richie has an outstanding selection of songs including “Hello,” “You Are,” “Stuck on You,” “Say You, Say Me,” “Long Long Way to Go,” and “All Night Long.” In addition to selling 100 million records worldwide, Mr. Richie has won countless awards including nine American Music Awards, five Grammys, an Oscar, and a Golden Globe.

LL Cool J: The actor-rapper will become the very first Hip-hop artist to be recognized by the Kennedy Center. The Queens, New York native is also set to be the youngest person ever to receive the honor! Before he was saving Los Angeles in NCIS: Los Angeles and encouraging celebrities to rock out on Lip Sync Battle, LL Cool J was the forefather of pop rap music and recorded 13 studio albums. Throughout his 33-year career in the entertainment industry, the Kennedy Center Honoree has earned two Grammy Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Northeastern University and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Norman Lear: Television would not be where it is today without Norman Lear. Since the 1970s, the legendary television producer combined humor and hot topics together for dozens of landmark television series.  From All in the Family, Maude, and The Jeffersons to Channel Umptee-3 and the revival of One Day at a Time, this Kennedy Center Honoree was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and four Emmy Awards.

 Carmen de Lavallade: The last artist that will receive a Kennedy Center Honor is the influential choreographer and actress Carmen de Lavallade. She danced alongside Alvin Alley, was the prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera’s productions of Samson & Delilah and Aida. Also, she also worked with legendary figures in African-American culture including Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, and Harry Belafonte. Ms. de Lavallade also has been recognized for her work in dance with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Juilliard School, a Bessie Award, and the Black History Month Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jake’s Take will like to congratulate these outstanding individuals on achieving his impeccable award.

The Kennedy Center Honors ceremony is expected to be held on December 3, while the televised version of the ceremony is scheduled to air on CBS on December 26.


  1. […] 2017 honoree LL Cool J served as this year’s host. After a rousing tribute to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, he introduced the nominees; it was time to get down to business. 2016 Kennedy Center Honoree Don Henley kicked off Linda Ronstadt’s tribute, and I loved hearing how Linda Ronstadt introduced him to the late Glenn Frey. Carrie Underwood sang two of Ms. Ronstadt’s songs: “Blue Bayou” and “When I Will Be Loved.” This was one of the American Idol winner’s best vocal performances. […]

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