Rock star Bruce Springsteen was presented with a Kennedy Centre honour by President Barack Obama at a White House reception on Sunday.
"I'm the president but he's the boss," said Obama as he introduced the star. Actor Robert De Niro, comic Mel Brooks, jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck and opera singer Grace Bumbry were also honoured.
The Kennedy Center annually awards figures from the world of arts for their contribution to US culture. Guests included Jack Black, Edward Norton, Matthew Broderick, Ben Stiller and Martin Scorsese.
"We worked really hard for our music to be part of American life and our fans' lives," said Springsteen, 60. "So it's an acknowledgement that you've kind of threaded your way into the culture in a certain way. It's satisfying," he added.
John Mellencamp, Jennifer Nettles, Melissa Etheridge and Sting all sang Springsteen tracks at the event. The show will air on 29 December in the US on the CBS channel.
Meryl Streep made a tribute to her friend De Niro: "He did what I and my drama school friends dreamed of to disappear and morph into a(character)", she said. The pair starred together in The Deer Hunter more than thirty years ago.
Singer Aretha Franklin recounted highlights of Bumbry's career. Bumbry, 72, was the first black opera singer to appear at Germany's Wagner festival, Bayreuth, when she was 25.
Many conservative opera-goers were outraged but by the end of the performance, the audience applauded for 30 minutes and there were 42 curtain calls.
Jack Black paid tribute to Brooks with a rendition of Men in Tights and Harry Connick Jr sang High Anxiety. Last year's honours went to Morgan Freeman, The Who stars Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, as well as singer Barbra Streisand.
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