Earth, Wind & Fire became the first all-Black group or band to be inducted into the Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday, Dec. 8.
Three original members of the group, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson and Philip Bailey were on hand to accept the honor.
Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White passed away in 2016 at age 74, but Johnson said White's spirit lives on in his music.
"You can't play any Earth Wind & Fire songs without Maurice's DNA being on it, so he's always here and we're always celebrating him and his vision," Johnson told Billboard. "People are still coming together and having fun."
Earth, Wind and Fire will mark their 50th anniversary next summer. White founded Earth, Wind & Fire in Chicago. He handpicked the musicians for his R&B, Soul and Funk band, including his brothers Verdine and Fred White.
Verdine, 68, said the group had "a special chemistry from day one, because we were all hand-picked by Maurice. He had a vision and he knew what he wanted, so here we are."
Cynthia Erivo, John Legend, the Jonas Brothers and Ne-Yo performed a medley of EWF hits in an ensemble finale of "September."
LL Cool J, who became the first rapper inducted into Kennedy Center Honors in 2017 and emceed this year's event, said "You know, we've come a long way, but it shows you how far we have to go when we're still talking about firsts."
As for his record-breaking first, the 51-year-old Capricorn said, "I'm just grateful it was me; that's a record that can't be broken. Impossible to break. That's dope."
The 42nd Kennedy Center Honors will air on CBS on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 8pm.
Another day at the Republican National Convention, another act unhappy about the “unauthorized use” of their music.
Earth, Wind & Fire have spoken out after the Hall of Famers' classic "September" briefly soundtracked proceedings on day two of the RNC without their consent.
In a tweet almost identical to one posted the previous night by Queen, Earth, Wind & Fire wrote: “Another unauthorized use (September) at the Republican Convention, against our wishes."
On an eventful evening when Doanld Trump was formally nominated as the GOP nominee, the house band cranked out a “lukewarm” of “September,” according to Billboard’s reporter on the scene. The performance was said to be especially popular among the older attendees, who hoisted "Make America Great Again" signs in time with the beat.
The previous night, Queen cautioned Trump – not for the first time – for using their anthemic "We Are the Champions" without permission.
Earth, Wind & Fire was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and were feted with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 ceremony, just 11 days after the death of co-founder Maurice White following a decades-long struggle with Parkinson’s disease.