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The 2017 class of honorees includes LL COOL J, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, Norman Lear and Carmen de Lavallade. (All images Courtesy Kennedy Center)

The Kennedy Center has announced the 2017 honorees

Today's announcement of the 2017 class of honorees for the Kennedy Center Honors drew much attention, as the 40th annual event will actually be a year of firsts. Of course, 2017 will be the first year that President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will host the honorees, former honorees, members of the cast and the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees at the White House prior to the gala.

However, one honoree, TV writer/producer Norman Lear, has already stated that he intends to bow out of the pre-event gathering at the White House, due to Trump's budget proposals to dismantle the National Endowment for the Arts. "It is more important than ever that we stand up for artists, for artistic expression, and for the valiant fight to reveal the wonder and oneness of the human spirit," said Lear in a press release.

According to the New York Times, Gloria Estefan sees the reception with the President as an ideal time to discuss differences. “Mr. President, as a proud immigrant of this country, it’s very important for me that you see the wonderful contributions we have made,” Ms. Estefan said she planned to say at the White House reception, according to the Times. “We have seen a lot of anti-immigrant backlash this year, so for us, it may hold even more beauty than for someone who has lived here all their lives. To get this kind of award is so American.”

In another historic first, LL COOL J is the first rap artist to ever be bestowed with a Kennedy Center Honors. "To be the first rap artist honored by the Kenendy Center is beyond anything I could have imagines," he said in a press release. "I dedicate this honor to the Hip Hop artists who came before me and those who came after me. This simply proves that dreams don't have deadlines." The 49-year-old is tied with Stevie Wonder as the youngest honoree.

The 2017 Kenendy Center Honorees are:

  • Carmen de Lavallade: Actress, Dancer, Choreographer
  • Gloria Estefan: Siner, Songwriter, Actress
  • LL COOL J: Hip Hop Artist, Actor
  • Norman Lear: Television Writer and Producer
  • Lionel Richie: Singer-Songwriter, Record Producer

The 2017 Kennedy Center Honors will take place on December 3 in the Kennedy Center Opera House. The show will be broadcast at 9 p.m. Dec. 26 on CBS.

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