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Streep will join cellist Yo-Yo Ma, singer and songwriter Neil Diamond, Broadway singer and actress Barbara Cook and saxophonist Sonny Rollins as 2011 Kennedy Center honorees, the performing arts organization said on Wednesday.
President Barack Obama will salute the five, and other stars will perform in their honour at a ceremony to be broadcast on CBS television on December 27.
Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein said the five honorees were extraordinary people "whose collective artistry has contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world."
Double Oscar-winner Streep, 62, is regarded as among the greatest living film actresses for performances in movies ranging from "Sophie's Choice" to "The Devil Wears Prada".
Rubenstein said "Sweet Caroline" singer Diamond has "created one of the most enduring catalogues of American popular music", and he called Yo-Yo Ma "one of the most versatile and popular classical music performers in the world."
Cook, 83, is best known for her 1950s Broadway performances in shows like "Candide" and "The Music Man", while Grammy-winning Rollins, 81, is regarded as one of the most influential jazz musicians in the world over a 60-year career.
The Kennedy Center Honors were created in 1978 and past honorees have included Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Carol Burnett, Luciano Pavarotti, Willie Nelson and Oprah Winfrey.