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Kennedy Center's 2018 honorees include Cher, Reba McEntire, "Hamilton"

The 2018 Kennedy Center Honors will celebrate the lifetime achievements in the arts of Cher, composer Philip Glass, country music star Reba McEntire and jazz legend Wayne Shorter. The national arts center announced on Wednesday that it will also award a special honor to "Hamilton" as part of the event, which will take place on Dec. 2. 

Last year, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump skipped the Kennedy Center Honors after three of the five recipients said they would not attend a White House reception, which was eventually canceled. Mr. Trump and his wife "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 at the time.

This year, the White House says it's too early to decide if Mr. Trump will participate in the ceremony, as he may attend the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, which ends Dec. 1.

Glass told the Associated Press that he wants Mr. Trump to come as an olive branch to the arts community. 

"If he were to come, it would represent a real broadening of his perspective," Glass said. "American arts really is our biggest contribution to the world, far more than our politics." 

Cher and Mr. Trump have feuded in the past, but it's not clear how the singer feels about his possible attendance.

Last year, the Kennedy Center's president, Deborah F. Rutter, publicly thanked Mr. Trump for allowing the night to focus solely on the arts and the honorees. But she also said she hoped to see the president attend in the future.

"I always hope that the person in that office makes a point of showing as much support for American arts and culture as his predecessors did and as his successors will," Rutter said in an interview.

The "Hamilton" honor marks a first-time honor for a specific piece of art, and a first for a contemporary work. The award will go to the four main creators of the musical: writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and music director Alex Lacamoire.

The musical is playing at the Kennedy Center through mid-September.

"This work has had such a huge impact in such a short time. It not only changed the way that people think about art, it changed the way they think about history and the storytelling of history," said Rutter, who didn't think awards like this would become regular events. "We felt it was important to honor it in real time and not 30 years in the future."

The four men said in a statement that the honor was "humbling beyond our wildest expectations for our show."

One of the special aspects of the Kennedy Center program is that each recipient is given a personalized introduction and performance by participants kept secret from the honoree.

McEntire has served as one of those surprises for four past honorees: Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Lily Tomlin and Carol Burnett.

"When the curtain went up, I could see the surprise in their eyes," she said. "I can't wait to see who they come up with for me."

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