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Sonny Rollins Honored by Kennedy Center and President Obama

Saxophonist receives Kennedy Center Honors, along with Meryl Streep, Barbara Cook, Yo-Yo Ma and Neil Diamond

2011 Kennedy Center honorees (counter-clockwise from lower left): Sonny Rollins, Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond, Meryl Streep, Yo-Yo Ma
2011 Kennedy Center honorees (l. to r.): Sonny Rollins, Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond, Meryl Streep, Yo-Yo Ma, Michelle Obama, President Obama

On Sunday night, the Kennedy Center taped its annual awards show in which it honors five Americans whose “collective artistry has contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world,” according to Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubinstein. Recipients of the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors were actress Meryl Streep, singer Barbara Cook, singer-songwriter Neil Diamond, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and saxophonist Sonny Rollins. An edited version of the gala will be broadcast in a two-hour program on CBS on Tuesday, December 27.

Rollins is the eighth jazz musician-after Ella Fitzgerald (1979), Count Basie (1981), Benny Goodman (1982), Lena Horne (1984), Dizzy Gillespie (1990), Lionel Hampton (1992) and Dave Brubeck (2009)-to be recognized with the Kennedy Center Honors since its creation in 1978, not counting numerous actors like Jack Lemmon, Clint Eastwood and Fred Astaire who like to play or sing jazz too.

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