Legendary American singer Patti Smith received the Legion of Honor, France’s highest honor.
She received the award from the French Ambassador to the United States, Philippe Étienne, at a medal ceremony in which she performed with her daughter, Jesse Paris Smith, and her longtime guitarist. date, Lenny Kaye.
The event was held as part of the Night of Ideas philosophy and performance festival organized by the Villa Albertine of the French Embassy and the Brooklyn Public Library.
Ms Smith, 75, told AFP: “It is an indescribable honour; I understand the seriousness of it. For someone who has been greatly shaped by French culture, French literature, French art and cinema, all my life, this is particularly significant.
“I have embraced France all my life, and to receive such an embrace in return is a wonderful thing.”
Ms Smith said when she was in her twenties she used to read French poetry to her late friend Robert Mapplethorpe when he couldn’t sleep. “I remember those nights very well,” she said.
The singer and writer also commented on the “very troubled world” we live in and added, “Artists can always inspire people, they can rally people, give people hope…in the end, what it’s not the artists who make the change, it’s the people.
“By vote, by initiative, by mass marches – it’s people who make the change. The only way to solve it is a global effort, and I think more than anything…that’s the thing the most important one that people need to tackle.”
Patti Smith strongly believed that power in society is [and should be] held by the people. This led to one of his famous songs People Have the Power, released in 1988.
Ms Smith also said she was ‘writing as always’, including songs, poems and another book to follow her upcoming visual compendium, A Book of Days, due out this autumn; and his award-winning memoir Just Kids.
She said receiving the Legion of Honor inspired her to do “more work and better work”, and that it “seemed very appropriate to work [perform music] right after receiving it… to be chosen as a kind of mini-ambassador of the country is really a great joy for me.
Finally, the French honors system rewards a hero (albeit belatedly)…
Sailor hero Jean le Cam on July 14 winners
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