Entertainment & Arts

Meryl Streep to receive Kennedy Center honour

Meryl Streep
Image caption Streep will play Margaret Thatcher in upcoming biopic The Iron Lady

Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep will be recognised for her contribution to US culture at this year's Kennedy Center honours.

The 62-year-old will be honoured alongside cellist Yo-Yo Ma and singer-songwriter Neil Diamond.

Broadway star Barbara Cook and saxophonist Sonny Rollins will also be recognised for their work.

President Barack Obama will salute the recipients at a gala ceremony in Washington on 4 December.

Streep, who won Oscars for her performances in Kramer vs Kramer and Sophie's Choice, said she wished her parents were alive to see her receive the award.

"All that education, allowance, tuition, voice lessons, summer jobs, scholarship application deadlines and loving care and discipline - all that they gave me, bore fruit in a way they never dreamed," she said in a statement.

Diamond told the Associated Press that he was "flying way above sea level" when heard about the honour.

Image caption Diamond said he was 'flying way above sea level' when he was told of the honour

"I've watched, and I've seen, and I've even dreamed that someday that would happen to me, but I never really believed that it would."

Ma is one of the world's best-known classical musicians.

He played for President John F Kennedy and President Dwight Eisenhower aged seven at a fundraiser for a national cultural centre that would later become the Kennedy Center.

The cellist also played as part of a quartet at President Obama's inauguration in 2009, although it was later revealed the musicians had played along to a pre-recorded track, after fears that cold weather would damage their instruments.

Cook is best known for her 1950s Broadway performances in shows like Candide and The Music Man, while Grammy-winner Rollins is regarded as one of the country's most influential jazz musicians from a career spanning six decades.

Kennedy Center chairman David Rubenstein said the five artists were extraordinary people "whose collective artistry has contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world".

He said Sweet Caroline singer Diamond had "created one of the most enduring catalogues of American popular music" and called Ma "one of the most versatile and popular classical music performers in the world".

He added the "sheer brilliance and breadth" of Streep's performances counted as one of "the most exhilarating cultural spectacles of our time".

Last years, Oprah Winfrey and Sir Paul McCartney were among the honourees.

Previous winners include Martin Scorsese, Robert Redford, Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor, Arthur Miller and Fred Astaire.

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