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(NECN: Washington, D.C.) - In what he referred to as something at the heart of our national life, President Barack Obama honored the arts on Sunday night. President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted a reception for this year's Kennedy Center honorees, prior to the 32nd annual Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Among the recipients was pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, a jazz musician who has a special place in the president's heart. "In the few weeks that I spent with my father a child -- he came to visit me for about a month when I was young -- one of the things he did was to take me to my first jazz concert in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1971. And it was a Dave Brubeck concert, and I've been a jazz fan ever since," Mr. Obama said. The president said Brubeck was being honored for the decades of joy he brought to jazz fans.