The Kennedy Center Honors ceremony wrapped up with an extended tribute to iconic singer and actress Cher.

Comedian Whoopi Goldberg kicked off the tribute in a flowing sparkled gown and jokingly told Cher, “I went into your closet.” Goldberg ran through the details of a remarkable 50-year career for 72-year-old Cherilyn Sarkisian. She started as a pop singer, became an Oscar-winning actress, then returned to music and recorded multiple hits into her 50s.

She is the oldest woman, at age 52, to have a number 1 hit song. The evening ended with longtime friend Cyndi Lauper performing, “If I could turn back time.”

The Honors tribute performers are always kept secret from the recipients, and this was no exception. When Lauper strode onstage, Cher yelled from her seat, “You told me you were going to Los Angeles!”

Lauper shrugged and said, “I lied”

Legendary composer Philip Glass received his Kennedy Center Honors tribute from a fellow Honors recipient: iconic singer/songwriter Paul Simon.

“He can rightfully be described as one of our greatest modern composers,” Simon said.

Simon praised Glass for his eclectic body of work, “never settling into one particular style, always developing and exploring.”

Other honorees are, country music legend Reba McEntire, jazz icon Wayne Shorter and the co-creators of “Hamilton.”

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are not attending.

This year’s Kennedy Center Honors ceremony contains an unprecedented break with tradition.

Normally the honor is meant as a lifetime achievement award for late-career artists. But this year, the center chose to honor an actual contemporary work of art: the blockbuster musical “Hamilton.”

The four co-creators — writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and music director Alex Lacamoire — received a unique award honoring them as “trailblazing creators of a transformative work that defies category.”

Jazz legend Wayne Shorter was hailed by the Kennedy Center for a six-decade career that included collaborations with everyone from Art Blakey and Miles Davis to Carlos Santana and Joni Mitchell.

In presenting Shorter’s honor, Jason Moran, the Kennedy Center’s artistic director for jazz, described his music in celestial terms.

“His sound holds a special place in the galaxy,” Moran said. “I can safely say that somewhere in the galaxy right now, a band is playing one of his pieces.”

After Moran’s testimonial, Shorter’s music was performed by a jazz band that included Herbie Hancock, Shorter’s former bandmate and a previous Kennedy Center Honoree.

Sunday night’s Kennedy Center Honors ceremony started with a standing ovation for former President George H.W. Bush who died Friday. Host Gloria Estefan recounted her memories of the former president.

She recalled being invited to the White House when Bush was president and how Bush “literally spent 45 minutes patiently talking to my eight-year-old son” about how the government worked.

The first recipient, Reba McEntire, received a testimonial from music star Kelly Clarkson, who performed McEntire’s hit song “Fancy” and recalled meeting her idol for the first time.

“Sometimes when we meet our heroes, it doesn’t always pan out,” Clarkson told McEntire, “but my friendship with you became one of the highlights of my life.”

Cher says she never thought she’d be walking the red carpet to receive a lifetime artistic achievement award at the Kennedy Center Honors.

The veteran pop music icon and Oscar winner said Sunday night at Washington’s Kennedy Center that she always tried to focus on the music and her fans over any career honors.

She says, “You do things for the art and if the awards come, that’s gravy.”

The 72-year-old says she was genuinely surprised to receive the award.

She says, “I never thought I was the right person for this because I’m a little bit out there.”

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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