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Ma, Diamond, Streep receive Kennedy Center Honors

December 5, 2011 • National News


Kennedy Center Honoree Yo-Yo Ma takes part in an interview after arriving at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the Kennedy Center Honor gala performance on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011 in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Meryl Streep may have gotten her next film assignment, Neil Diamond thanked the namesake of his famous tune “Sweet Caroline,” and a tux-clad Elmo honored his friend, Yo-Yo Ma. They were among several luminaries from Broadway, jazz and classical music to receive the Kennedy Center Honors Sunday night for their influence on American culture through the arts.

Caroline Kennedy, who hosts the annual show as part of a living memorial to her assassinated father, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, acknowledged her personal connection to one honoree.

In a nod to Diamond, she said he was “a Brooklyn lad with a gift of melody who grew into a solitary man, ‘reaching out, touching me.’” That was enough to draw big laughs from the crowd of celebrities and politicians recalling that Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” was named for her.

“I’m going to have to thank her for that,” Diamond said before the show.

He noted the song is a story about him and his ex-wife. But he took the name from Kennedy.

Smokey Robinson sang “Sweet Caroline” with help from Kennedy and fans brought in from Boston’s Fenway Park where it’s a favorite anthem.

Lionel Richie, who sang, “I Am … I Said,” told the AP that he got into the music business because he wanted to be Diamond.

“He’s a great storyteller,” Richie said. “He’s not an acrobatic singer. Basically he told the story in a very simple voice.”

Earlier, President Barack Obama Login to read more

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