Stevie Wonder, Leona Lewis and Luke Bryan were among the stars to celebrate Lionel Richie at the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors.
The singer-songwriter was one of five people to be honored at the Kennedy Center this year, with the celebration taking place earlier in December and airing on Tuesday night (26Dec17). He was joined by LL Cool J, Gloria Estefan, writer and producer Norman Lear, as well as actor, dancer, and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade.
Stevie kicked off Lionel’s segment of the show, belting out a version of 1977 hit Easy, which Lionel sang when he was a part of the Commodores.
Country star Luke, who’s joining Lionel and Katy Perry on the rebooted American Idol next year (18), opted for Penny Lover and Sail On, while British songstress Leona sang Say You Say Me and All Night Long.
“Nobody, in my opinion, is more deserving than Lionel when you look at his whole body of work as a singer-songwriter, as a band member, as an individual artist, as what he was able to do with charitable stuff through this year,” Luke told Universal Music Group.
And Kenny Rogers shared his memories of speaking with Lionel for the first time over the phone. The 79-year-old scored a number one single with Lionel-penned track Lady in 1980, and the song went on to be voted number 47 on Billboard’s All Time Top 100.
“I said you know, if you’re not busy, I’d like you to come over and write a song for me,” he recalled.
After telling the country legend he was “very, very busy,” Kenny explained that the song was for his greatest hits album and would probably sell “five or six million (copies).”
Lionel then replied, “How’s tomorrow night at 7:30?”
As well as being the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy Center Honors, 2017 also marks what would have been late President John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday.
Current President Donald Trump was notably absent from the event, which is the first time a sitting U.S. leader hasn’t attended in more than two decades.