Luke Bryan had the chance to honor his musical idol, and upcoming fellow judge on American Idol, Lionel Richie, at the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, airing Tuesday night (Dec. 26).
"Nobody, in my opinion is more deserving than Lionel when you look at his whole body of work as a singer-songwriter, as a band member, as an individual artist, as what he was able to do with charitable stuff through his years," says Bryan. "Lionel has always been himself and he embodies certainly what the Kennedy Center Honors is looking for, and the fact that I can stand there on that stage and sing songs from my childhood and my life to one of my heroes in that setting is something I will never forget.
"One of the biggest honors of my life, and I'm so proud to be a part of it," continues Bryan. "It's just going to be an amazingly special moment for me and something that I can look back and go, 'Wow! How was I in the room on that one?'"
Bryan sang "Penny Lover" as part of his tribute to Richie. Other Kennedy Center Honors recipients include LL Cool J, Gloria Estefan, TV producer and writer Norman Lear, and dancer and actress Carmen de Lavallade.
The 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors will air on CBS at 8:00 PM ET.