'Hamilton,' Cher to get Kennedy Center Honors

FILE PHOTO: Cher attends the world premiere of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again at the Apollo in Hammersmith, London, Britain, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Singer and actress Cher, country music artist Reba McEntire and the creators of the Broadway hit, “Hamilton,” will be celebrated at this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, one of the country’s highest recognitions for artists, the center said on Wednesday.

Pianist Philip Glass and jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter will also be lauded at the event.

“This year’s slate of honorees represents the pinnacle of our nation’s originality and the rich mosaic of diverse perspectives and art forms that has come to define who we are as a people,” said Deborah Rutter, the Kennedy Center president, in a statement.

The Kennedy Center Honors is usually a non-partisan, star-studded event that is attended by the president and first lady.

Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, did not attend, saying they wanted the honorees to enjoy the festivities “without any political distraction.”

One of the 2017 honorees, dancer Carmen de Lavallade, had boycotted the event after Trump blamed “both sides” for clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which one woman died protesting a white nationalist rally.

Trump has sparred with several of this year’s honorees.

He slammed “Hamilton” as “highly overrated,” after the cast directly addressed then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence when he attended the musical shortly after the election and asked that the new government “work on behalf of all of us.” Trump has also called Cher, who attended the massive January 2017 Women’s March protesting his election, a “total loser.”

It was not immediately clear whether the Trumps would attend. “It’s too early to know their schedules yet,” Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman, said in an email.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Scott Malone and Bernadette Baum