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Now at 56, he is hailed as a musical ambassador to the world who has spanned styles from Bluegrass to sounds from the Silk Road with an ensemble he founded. Many of his friends performed in his honor.

Elmo, dressed in a tux, said he came to honor Ma, who taught him that “music is like a playground” that makes everyone happy.

And earlier, Obama jokingly looked to Ma for some advice.

“Everybody likes him,” Obama said. “You’ve got to give me some tips. I thought about asking him to go talk to Congress.”

CBS will broadcast the show on Dec. 27.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton flew home for less than 36 hours between diplomatic travels to honor the artists with a dinner Saturday night. After visiting the isolated Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, Clinton said such U.S. artists have worldwide influence by using their freedom of creativity.

“You may not know it, but somewhere in a little tiny room in Burma or even in North Korea, someone is desperately trying to hear you or to see you, to experience you,” Clinton said. “And if they are lucky enough to make that connection, it can literally change lives and countries.”

Shortly after, in a toast to Streep at the State Department, writer Nora Ephron warned Clinton that the person who would someday play her on screen is the same woman who played Julia Child in “Julie and Julia” and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the upcoming “The Iron Lady.” Streep stood up for a better look at the nation’s top diplomat.

“It’s inevitable,” Ephron told Clinton, drawing big laughs. “You met her tonight, and I’m sure you thought she was charming, but she was just soaking you up.”

Streep, 62, has made more than 45 movies and won two Oscars in a career spanning Shakespeare to ABBA with the movie “Mamma Mia!” For her part, Streep said she is in awe of the accolades.

“Look where we are, look who’s here,” Streep told The Associated Press. “It’s overwhelming. I feel very proud.”

On Sunday, Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway from “The Devil Wears Prada,” joined Kevin Kline and Stanley Tucci for a musical tribute to Streep.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick opened the tributes to Broadway singer Barbara Cook, recalling the days when they first started dating and went to hear Cook sing at the Cafe Carlyle in New York.

“I don’t think Matthew at the time knew what kind of special memory he was creating for us,” Parker said.

“Oh, I knew,” Broderick said back.

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