On the heels of the announcement that he will be a Kennedy Center honoree later this year, Sonny Rollins appeared on the Tavis Smiley Show on PBS. He discussed his career, his philosophy and why he feels that the Medal of Arts is not going to him alone.
“It’s the people who came before me,” he told Smiley. “When I accept this honor, it’s for Count Basie, who got one. It’s for Duke Ellington, who didn’t get one. It’s for Lester Young, who didn’t get one. It’s for Thelonious Monk, who didn’t get one. So, I’m standing up there and I say, ‘Thank you for this honor, thank you. I appreciate it. But I understand that I’m them. We’re talking about this music now. I appreciate it for everybody who bled and died and suffered and still made this great music come about.’”
Here’s the video of the entire 24-minute segment.