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Trumpless ‘Kennedy Center Honors’ Includes Celeb Tributes to LL Cool J, Lionel Richie, More (Pics)

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The five recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors pose for a group photo following a dinner hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in their honor at the US Department of State in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, December 2, 2017.

The five recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors pose for a group photo following a dinner hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in their honor at the US Department of State in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, December 2, 2017.

*Donald Trump’s absence in the balcony of Sunday’s 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors did absolutely nothing to prevent the show from going on without a hitch.

Queen Latifah, Busta Rhymes, the Roots, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder and Misty Copeland joined an all-star lineup of talent on Sunday (Dec. 3) to salute this year’s recipients: singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan, TV legend Norman Lear, dancer-choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, rapper-actor LL Cool J, and singer-songwriter Lionel Richie.

It was a rare Kennedy Center Honors that did not feature the sitting U.S. president looking on from a prime perch in a box seat. As previously reported, the President and first lady Melania Trump backed out of the event back in August when three of the honorees said they would not attend the traditional White House reception that accompanies the KenCen honors in protest of his presidency.

Another personality out of the mix on Sunday was Stephen Colbert, who has hosted the past three editions of the ceremony, which will air Dec. 26 as a special on CBS. Colbert was dropped from the role earlier in the year because of his nightly diatribes against Trump on CBS’ “The Late Show.”

According to Variety, the event proceeded without a formal emcee. Caroline Kennedy offered a brief welcome, and some emcee-like duties were fulfilled by 2001 KenCen honoree Quincy Jones.

Below, Variety has the night’s details:

First up was honoree Estefan, who was praised by actress Eva Longoria and the cast of the Kennedy Center’s upcoming production of the musical “On Your Feet,” inspired by the life story of Estefan and her husband and collaborator, Emilio Estefan. Other participants included singer Chaka Khan and Jon Secada, and Estefan’s longtime Miami Sound Machine band.

The salute to Lear, as expected, included clips and other reflections about his landmark TV shows, “All in the Family,” “Maude,” “Good Times,” “The Jeffersons,” “One Day At a Time,” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.” Each was highlighted against an ever-changing array of sets as appropriate. “All in the Family” star Rob Reiner was on hand to salute Lear at the presidential box before a set that included the iconic living room chairs of Archie and Edith Bunker, which were on loan from the Smithsonian Institution.

“Archie wouldn’t let me sit in his chair, and the Smithsonian won’t let me either,” Reiner explained.

The segment for LL Cool J, the center’s first hip-hop honoree, featured a glowing appreciation from Queen Latifah and tributes from an array of rap artists. Actress Meryl Streep dropped by to reminisce about de Lavallade, especially the three years she spent as her student at the Yale University School of Drama. Other artists for de Lavallade’s segment included American Ballet Theater principal Misty Copeland.

Reserving the Richie tribute for last, the center opened with Stevie Wonder at the piano to sing “I Love You” and “Easy.” Singer Kenny Rogers narrated the film tribute while country star Luke Bryan delivered a medley of Richie faves.

View red carpet pics from Saturday’s dinner honoring 2017 Kennedy Center Honors recipients:

LL Cool J, center, arrives with his Mother, Andrea Smith, left and his wife, Simone Smith, right, for the formal Artist's Dinner honoring the recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the US Department of State on December 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.

LL Cool J, center, arrives with his Mother, Andrea Smith, left and his wife, Simone Smith, right, for the formal Artist’s Dinner honoring the recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the US Department of State on December 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Lionel Richie, second left, arrives with son Miles, left, and girlfriend Lisa Parigi, second right, and sister Deborah Richie, right, for the formal Artist's Dinner honoring the recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the US Department of State on December 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Lionel Richie, second left, arrives with son Miles, left, and girlfriend Lisa Parigi, second right, and sister Deborah Richie, right, for the formal Artist’s Dinner honoring the recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the US Department of State on December 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Carmen de LaVallade, son, Leo Holder, and their family, arrive for the formal Artist's Dinner honoring the recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the US Department of State on December 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Carmen de LaVallade, son, Leo Holder, and their family, arrive for the formal Artist’s Dinner honoring the recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the US Department of State on December 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Nicole Edmonds arrive for the formal Artist's Dinner hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in their honor at the US Department of State on December 2, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Nicole Edmonds arrive for the formal Artist’s Dinner hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in their honor at the US Department of State on December 2, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Actor Anthony Anderson arrives for the formal Artist's Dinner hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in their honor at the US Department of State on December 2, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Actor Anthony Anderson arrives for the formal Artist’s Dinner hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in their honor at the US Department of State on December 2, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Jon Batiste arrives for the formal Artist's Dinner hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in their honor at the US Department of State on December 2, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Jon Batiste arrives for the formal Artist’s Dinner hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in their honor at the US Department of State on December 2, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

From left to right: Calvin Hill, wife Janet, Grant Hill and wife Tamia, arrive for the formal Artist's Dinner honoring the recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the US Department of State in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, December 2, 2017.

From left to right: Calvin Hill, wife Janet, Grant Hill and wife Tamia, arrive for the formal Artist’s Dinner honoring the recipients of the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors hosted by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the US Department of State in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, December 2, 2017.

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Is Pres. Elect Biden Obama’s 3rd Term? & What 44 Said About Black America’s Progress Under His Watch on ‘Breakfast Club’ (VIDEO)

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Charlamagne Tha God - Barack Obama
Charlamagne Tha God - Barack Obama

Charlamagne Tha God – Barack Obama

*Attorney Antonio Moore discusses the recent Obama Breakfast Club interview during his Book tour.

Moore harshly critiques the interview of Pres. Obama performed by Charlamagne, DJ Envy and Angela Yee.

He also looks closer at President Elect Joe Biden’s cabinet picks and measures them again Barack Obama & Bill Clinton’s prior administrations.

MORE NEWS: Ripped in Their 50s! Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Strip Down for Weigh-in / WATCH

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** FEATURED STORY **

The Virtual United Negro College Fund Tour Heads to NY, DC & NJ on Fri & Sat-Nov. 20 & 21 (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)

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EUR emt-smiling-people-800-800x450

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*African American students interested in going to college can attend the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Fall 2020 virtual Empower Me Tour. Set for this Friday and Saturday (November 20 & 21, 2020), New York, District of Columbia, and New Jersey will be repped. (This year’s tour kicked off earlier this month in Wisconsin and Illinois). To register, go here.

The Empower Me Tour is an extension of the goals of the UNCF. Founded in 1944, the UNCF, a non-profit, has raised more than $5 billion and helped more than 500,000 students attend 37 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The EUR caught up with Stacey Lee, the tour’s director for four years, who discussed the importance of the event.

“The UNCF is the nation’s largest provider of education support to minority students,” said Lee. “The Empowerment Tour has been executed for the past 12 years and last year along we offered over $12 million dollars in scholarships.”

MORE NEWS/RELATED: BMEE Authors: Urgent Steps Are Necessary to Address Implicit Bias in Early Education  

staceylee uncf

Stacey Lee, director of the Empower Me Tour. (Photo credit: UNCF)

Lee continued, “I think the great thing is that during these times, even with COVID-19, is that a number of corporations (Wells Fargo/P&/FedEx/Disney/Goldman Sachs) and donors have really been providing opportunity and financial access to our schools and students.”

The tour is packed with information and resources so that students and parents have the right tools to make informed decisions.

“It’s a free event that provides educational support, scholarships, interviews with colleges, empowerment, and information on how to get to and through college. We also provide this information for parents as well. We have a parent section that focuses on financial aid and the things you need to get your students to college.”

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Source: Empower Me Tour

Lee continued, “Sometimes we have students that don’t realize that they can attend college. They can receive scholarships. Some of them don’t even know what an HBCU is. So, it’s inspirational for me to see these students receive this information and the excitement that’s around this tour.”

In addition to college information, panel sessions on issues affecting the community will also take place. Legendary rapper Bun B will be part of a special My Black Is Beautiful panel. The panel will have discussions with girls and boys and the MC will lead the male portion.

“It’s about empowerment,” Bun B told the EUR. “It’s vital for us to lift each other up and amplify each other’s voices. We just talk about now what that role is in this COVID world. And with everything that we are seeing with young Black men on television, we want to keep them motivated and centered. We want to make sure that they are not discouraged in this moment.”

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Legendary rapper Bun B is a panelist at the Empower Me Tour. (Photo credit: UNCF)

Ever since Kamala Harris threw her hat into the presidential race and elected vice president of the United States, a spotlight has shined on the fact that she’s an HBCU grad (Howard University) and member of the African American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. These facts are not lost on the UNCF.

“Kamala has really boosted people’s awareness about HBCUs and (African American sororities) and the type of people that come out of HBCUs. HBCUS have also provided so many people from science, mathematics, and engineering programs (STEM).”

Bun B added, “We have more than enough examples to show you how beneficial an education from an HBCU can be. So, there is no reason to not be a part of an HBCU because the world is just as available to you as it is for anyone else attending any other type of university.”

Register for the virtual Empower Me Tour on November 20 & 21, 2020 here. Spring tour dates will be announced soon. For general information on the United Negro College Fund, go here.

EUR emt-smiling-people-800-800x450

(Photo credit: UNCF)

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New Music Buzz: Jazzy Rita Shelby’s ‘Goodbye 2020’

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Goodbye 2020 Jazzy Rita Shelby
Goodbye 2020 Jazzy Rita Shelby

After all that’s happened this year, it’s time to say Goodbye 2020. New single available by Jazzy Rita Shelby at most digital platforms.

*SB Music presents “Goodbye 2020” a new single for the times we are in.

“Goodbye 2020” is performed by Jazzy Rita Shelby and written by Miss Shelby (ASCAP) and Eddie Lawrence Miller (BMI).

It’s the perfect anthem to end a year that has impacted the globe.

Jazzy Rita Shelby Goodbye 2020 looking up - Copy

Jazzy Rita Shelby is fed up with this year and elated about her new single “Goodbye 2020.” Avail now from SB Music (Written by L. Shelby & E. Miller)

EURweb’s Jazzy Rita is also a prolific lyricist who has teamed up with Eddie Miller for “Goodbye 2020” because it was timely and convenient for the birth of a song such as this.

Eddie Miller is a coveted keyboardist & vocalist who performs regularly with Brian Culbertson and he’s the Rhodes Festival musical director. Jazzy Rita rose to notoriety as host & performer at The Starlight Jazz Serenade, an annual benefit concert in North Hollywood with an A list of stars.  As a teen Miss Shelby was inspired to write songs by the legendary David Porter.

This year has been a year like no other.  “Goodbye 2020” is an ode to the world for the year that we have seen and the hope that lies ahead.  Radio Programmers click here for adds.

MORE NEWS: THE REAL: The Ladies’ Experience With Stereotypes in Hollywood. Plus, Cheryl Hines Is Here!

“Goodbye 2020” is released on the SB Music label and was recorded at Wishing Wells Studio in Canoga Park, CA.  Willie Daniels and Mildred Black perform background vocals along with Jazzy Rita.  The video is produced & directed by Jazzy Rita (LaRita Shelby), filmed & edited by Reggie Simon of Simon Vision Media, with wardrobe styling by Jazzy Rita and Poet Roni Girl’s Army Couture.  “Goodbye 2020” is available on most digital platforms.  Click here to listen on Spotify.

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