A special featuring highlights from the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors aired Tuesday night on CBS, and among the artists honored were Gloria Estefan and Lionel Richie. The event took place in Washington, D.C. in early December.
The first honoree of the night was Gloria, whose segment was introduced by Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria.
During the introduction, Longoria noted, “Whether she’s singing of love lost, love remembered, love desperately clinging to life or love kindled on a dance floor, no one ever gave a song more emotional honesty.”
Grammy-winning singer Jon Secada was followed by Gloria’s daughter Emily, who performed her mother’s Grammy-winning song from 1996, “Reach.”
The cast of Broadway’s Get on Your Feet — a show inspired by Gloria’s inspirational comeback after breaking her back in a 1990 collision between her tour bus and a truck — closed the segment with a medley of Gloria’s hits with Miami Sound Machine: “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” and “Conga.”
Stevie Wonder opened Lionel Richie’s segment of the show with a rendition of “Easy,” Richie’s 1977 hit with the Commodores.
Kenny Rogers — who scored a country and pop hit with the Richie-penned song “Lady” — recalled speaking with the prolific singer/songwriter for the first time over the phone.
“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 Rogers he was “very, very busy,” Rogers explained that the song was for his greatest hits album and would probably sell “five or six million [copies].”
“How’s tomorrow night at 7:30?” replied Richie.
More tributes followed, with country superstar Luke Bryan performing Richie’s hits, “Penny Lover” and “Sail On,” and British singer/songwriter Leona Lewis tackling “Say You Say Me” and “All Night Long.”
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