The event, which was taped at the Kennedy Center Opera House, is to be broadcast Dec. 26 on CBS.
"The Kennedy Center Honors spotlights the extraordinary careers of five artists whose talent and ingenuity have enriched and shaped cultural life in America," Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement when this year's names were announced in August. "Carmen de Lavallade is a national treasure whose elegance and talent as a dancer led to a career touching many art forms; international superstar Gloria Estefan has influenced American music through her infectious Miami sound; landmark hip-hop artist LL Cool J taught the world how to rhyme as one of the pioneers of the hip-hop phenomenon; Norman Lear spoke to the human condition and sparked poignant cultural conversations with some of the most epochal TV sitcoms of the 20th century; and Lionel Richie's irresistibly recognizable melodies capture the heart and transcend generations."
U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania said this summer they were breaking with tradition and would not attend the gala as they initially planned after some of the artists to be honored said they did not want to share their special night with the Trumps.
"The president and first lady have decided not to participate in this year's activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "First lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J. Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year's award recipients for their many accomplishments."