Lin-Manuel Miranda and 'Hamilton' Co-Creators Break Kennedy Center Honors Mold Tonight on CBS

Tweaking its tradition of celebrating only individual performers, the 41st Kennedy Center Honors breaks the mold Wednesday night. The annual black-tie affair will honor Lin-Manuel Miranda and his three co-creators for the blockbuster Broadway musical "Hamilton."

The center also pays tribute to country superstar Reba McEntire, jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, composer Philip Glass, and singer/actress Cher, reports the Los Angeles Times. Friends, colleagues, and performers honor them in that order.

The Honors recognizes exceptional artists who have made enduring and indelible marks on the culture — and for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts.

The show airs on CBS, 7 p.m. CST and 8 p.m. PST.

Miranda's celebrated colleagues, all of whom have found great fame since "Hamilton" debuted in 2015 at the off-Broadway Public Theater, are Thomas Kail, Andy Blankenbuehler and Alex Lacamoire.

The ultra-popular rap musical, based on Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, opened on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theater on Aug. 6., 2015.

"Hamilton" won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for drama and 11 Tony Awards. The show continues to play to packed houses and now has productions running in Chicago, and London, as well as a U.S. national tour. The show will also play a limited engagement in Puerto Rico in January 2019. Another production will open in San Francisco in February 2019. Miranda wrote both the lyrics and music for the show, in addition to starring as Hamilton in the original Broadway cast. He will reprise the role in Puerto Rico.

Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein told Playbill that Miranda and his co-creators have set a new course of American culture with "Hamilton"'s originality and timely message.

But first up with be McEntire, the unofficial matriarch of country music after several decades of great success in her beloved American genre.

Kelly Clarkson, singer and McEntire's daughter-in-law, honors the country music icon with a passionate performance of "Fancy," writes the Los Angeles Times. Others saluting McEntire are Lady Antebellum, Kristin Chenoweth, and Brooks & Dunn.

Famed opera singer, soprano Renée Fleming is among the artists paying homage to Shorter with her version of "Aurora Leigh."

Glass celebrants include Shorter's good friend Paul Simon, Jon Batiste, the bandleader for "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,"and actress Epatha Merkerson. Batiste plays "Opening" from "Glassworks" on the piano. Merkerson performs "Knee Play 5" from "Einstein on the Beach."

Who better to end the show than Cher's pals and admirers for her 50-plus years in pop show business? Her name is one that doesn't need an introduction, as an appropriately-dressed Whoopi Goldberg explains when you tune in.

Little Big Town sings a medley of Cher hits, Cyndi Lauper belts out an audience-rousing "If I Could Turn Back Time." In the night's finale, Lauper and Adam Lambert of "American Idol" fame end the evening with Sonny and Cher's hit, "I Got You Babe."

Playbill quoted Rubenstein in an earlier statement as he regaled all the 2018 performers:

"Cher is the consummate star, wowing generations of fans with her distinctive voice, blockbuster albums and glittering on-screen presence; Philip Glass is a modern-day Mozart whose works across opera, symphony, chamber music, and film define contemporary music and simply transfix us; country songstress Reba McEntire has inspired us over five decades with her powerhouse voice and music that conveys heartfelt, heartwarming honesty; Wayne Shorter is a seminal artist, defying categorization while carrying forward the mantle of jazz; and the creators of "Hamilton" have literally and figuratively changed the face of American culture with daringly original, breathtakingly relevant work."

Cuban-American pop superstar Gloria Estefan, a 2017 Kennedy Center Honors recipient, hosts the 2018 show.

The Kennedy Center Honors event was held Dec. 2 in its Washington, D.C. location.

Don't miss "The 41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors" TONIGHT on https://t.co/uTQoWPJhAh at 8:00 PM!

Cher, Philip Glass, Reba McEntire, Wayne Shorter and "Hamilton" co-creators Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Andy Blankenbuehler & Alex Lacamoire are honored.#KennedyCenterHonors pic.twitter.com/RlKXhQjM2I

— The 41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors 2018 (@41st_the) December 26, 2018