2011 Kennedy Center Honors spotlights five honorees

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton flew home between visits to Myanmar and Germany to honor the artists with a dinner Saturday night. After visiting the isolated Southeast Asian country also known as Burma, Clinton said such U.S. artists have worldwide influence by using their freedom of creativity.

(Photo: AP)

"You may not know it, but somewhere in a little tiny room in Burma or even in North Korea, someone is desperately trying to hear you or to see you, to experience you," Clinton said. "And if they are lucky enough to make that connection, it can literally change lives and countries."

Streep, 62, has made more than 45 movies and won two Oscars in her career. Her movies have spanned Shakespeare and "Angles in America" to portraying chef Julia Child in "Julie and Julia."

In her upcoming film, Streep will play British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the upcoming "The Iron Lady."

Streep said she was in awe of the accolades from the president and others.

"Look where we are, look who's here," Streep told The Associated Press. "It's overwhelming. I feel very proud."

Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway who co-stared with Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada," joined Kevin Kline and Stanley Tucci for a musical tribute to Streep.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick opened the tributes to Cook, recalling the days when they first started dating and went to hear Cook sing at the Café Carlyle in New York.

"I don't think Matthew at the time knew what kind of special memory he was creating for us," Parker said.

"Oh, I knew," Broderick said back.

Cook, 84, made her Broadway debut in 1951, and later Leonard Bernstein cast her in his musical "Candide." She topped that performance as Marian the Librarian in 1957's hit musical "The Music Man," for which she won a Tony Award.

A film tribute noted Cook went silent for a decade, due to drinking and depression, but she came back.

Glenn Close called her an icon for anyone who has worked on Broadway.

"I think we have the biggest respect for her because she really has survived, survived and prevailed," Close said.

Rollins, 81, is a jazz saxophonist who has shared the stage with Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, among others.

"America is the home of jazz. It's what we started," he said. "By the way, hip hop music is a part of jazz, believe it or not."

Friend Bill Cosby marveled about how he has heard Rollins' distinctive sax around the world in Greece, Hong Kong, Italy — and found so many people who knew the musician's work.

"All over the world, Sonny Rollins," Cosby said.

Benny Golson and Herbie Hancock joined in playing some of Rollins' tunes.

Fellow sax player and former President Bill Clinton said earlier that he has been a fan since the age of 15 or 16 when he bought his first Rollins LP and played it until it was worn out.

"His music can bend your mind, it can break your heart, and it can make you laugh out loud," Clinton said. "He has done things with improvisation that really no one has ever done."

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