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Without Trump, Kennedy Center honors Lionel Richie and Gloria Estefan

Published: Updated:

With the notable absence of President Donald Trump, the Kennedy Center on Sunday celebrated singers Lionel Richie and Gloria Estefan, rapper LL Cool J, television producer Norman Lear and dancer Carmen de Lavallade with honors for the arts.

The awards, known as the Kennedy Center Honors, are considered the top recognition in the country for artists across a variety of fields, and the annual event’s importance is usually highlighted by a White House reception with the president and the first lady.

Not this year.

The White House said in August that Trump and his wife, Melania, would not attend the performance so that honorees could enjoy it “without any political distraction.” The White House reception was also canceled after some of the honorees said they would boycott it.

A subtle undercurrent of displeasure with Trump, a Republican who entered office in January, and his policies underlined a reception at the State Department on Saturday night ahead of the awards show.

“Art transcends borders, cultures, politics,” actress Julie Andrews said. “This event gives us an opportunity to step away from divisive discourse and appreciate excellence in art that has been created for everyone.”

All of the recipients expressed joy over receiving the awards.