Behind the Scenes: The Ceremony at the White House before the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors ( video)

On December 4, the President welcomed the 2011 Kennedy Center honorees to the White House for a ceremony before the live performances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The annual awards show celebrates individuals who have made a lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts–whether in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television.

This year’s honorees are singer Barbara Cook, singer and songwriter Neil Diamond, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, saxophonist and composer Sonny Rollins, and actress Meryl Streep.

Before you tune in for the  “Kennedy Center Honors” tonight at 9 pm ET/PT on CBS, take a look at what the honorees had to say about being recognized for their body of work — and about being invited to the White House:

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