President Barack Obama presented the legendary blues singer Buddy Guy with one of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors Sunday night. He called Guy “one of the last guardians of the great American blues.”
Born into a Louisiana sharecropper family, the six-time Grammy Award winner helped pioneer the electric blues with other legends including Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.
The president recognized seven individuals - Guy, Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Natalia Makarova, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant - for their lifetime contributions to the country’s culture through the performing arts.
“Each of us can remember a moment when the people on this stage touched our lives. … Maybe they inspired us to see things in a new way, to hear things differently.” Obama said. “It is that unique power that makes the arts so important.”
After the awards ceremony former President Bill Clinton delivered a toast to Guy, saying he had traveled from a cotton patch to the concrete jungle of Chicago to emerge as the “greatest living blues guitarist.”
“From picking cotton in the field to picking a guitar in the White House, that is a long ways man,” Guy told reporters at the Kennedy Center.
Video: President Obama delivers remarks at a reception celebrating the 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees on December 2, 2012.