Got this article in the mailbox a few days ago :
Kennedy Center Honors for Sonny Rollins!!by Jacqueline Trescott
Washington Post, September 7, 2011
The 2011 Kennedy Center Honors, announced Wednesday, salutes four architects of music -- from the improvisational saxophone of Sonny Rollins to the Broadway warmth of Barbara Cook, the tender cello of Yo-Yo Ma and the pulsing anthems of Neil Diamond.
The center has also selected actor Meryl Streep, who has sung in a few movies but is much better known for her flawless interpretations of characters over the past 30 years.
When the letters from the Kennedy Center arrive, even artists who have been in the spotlight for decades are a little taken aback. "I couldn't believe it but it actually said I was chosen as one of the Kennedy Center Honorees," said Diamond in a phone interview. "And it told me to keep my mouth shut." Now Diamond, 70, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., can tell his mother, who is in her 90s and attends most of his concerts.
The Honors are given the first weekend of December in ceremonies at the State Department and the White House with an evening of all-star salutes to the Honorees, hosted by Caroline Kennedy at the Kennedy Center.
"You can look at the people chosen this year, and this is the 34th year and say arguably they are the best at what they do," said George Stevens, Jr., the co-producer of the Honors show.
Rollins, who celebrates his 81st birthday Wednesday, has contributed so much to jazz that people for years have bypassed the adjective of "giant" and simply called him "a colossus."
Rollins, a native of Harlem, originally played alto sax and then switched to tenor sax. He emerged as a coveted sideman in the 1950s, playing with Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Art Farmer, Clifford Brown, Max Roach among others. In 1953, his recording "Sonny Rollins and the Modern Jazz Quartet" became a
classic. Other landmark albums followed, including "A Night at the Village Vanguard" in 1957 and "Freedom Suite" in 1958. In 2000, he won his first Grammy, for "This Is What I Do," and his second Grammy in 2004 for "Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert."
In a phone interview Rollins said the award honors more than just him. "I think that jazz has been sort of underrepresented in our culture. It is so gratifying to know that now it is beginning to be recognized as the great world force it is. I have fans in Mongolia, as well as Madison, Wisc.," said Rollins. "It is not about me but the idiom, and I am just one of the last guys standing."
Earlier this year, Rollins was awarded the National Medal of Arts. "I still practice every day. I am working hard to become more perfect in my art and presentation," he said.