"The Godfather of Soul" James Brown, country music icon Loretta Lynn and violinist Itzhak Perlman were among five stars honored in Washington, D.C., yesterday (Dec. 7) for their contributions to Ameri

"The Godfather of Soul" James Brown, country music icon Loretta Lynn and violinist Itzhak Perlman were among five stars honored in Washington, D.C., yesterday (Dec. 7) for their contributions to American culture. They joined comedian Carol Burnett and film director Mike Nichols as this year's Kennedy Center honorees.

The annual celebration culminated in a gala performance attended by President George W. Bush at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Bush hosted the honorees at a White House reception before the performance, calling the group an "interesting mix" bound by "superior performance" throughout their careers.

The president's father, George Bush, made an appearance at the show to congratulate Lynn on being "an American original." "I feel very confident in speaking for the entire Bush family in expressing our love and our respect for this national treasure, Loretta," the elder Bush said.

Brown, the energetic singer of hits like "I Feel Good" and "Sex Machine," was excited about the award. "I feel good," he said with a grin, clad in a shiny tuxedo and a bow tie embroidered with his initials. Hip hop artist and actor LL Cool J said a testament to James Brown's influence on rhythm and blues music was that he was "born listening to it."

"There was a long period where in hip hop James Brown was basically the staple -- you couldn't even make a record if you weren't using any James Brown," he said.

At a State Department dinner, Secretary of State Colin Powell dubbed Brown the "Secretary of Soul and the Foreign Minister of Funk." Turning to Perlman, Powell described his music as keeping the soul in "suspended animation" long after the notes had faded.


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