Legendary American singer Patti Smith received the French Legion of Honor at the age of 75 from the French Ambassador to the United States, Philippe Etienne. “It’s an incredible honor,” she said.
“For someone who has been largely shaped by French culture, French literature, art, and French cinema all my life, this is especially important,” she said. “I have adopted France all my life and it is incredible that I have been adopted in my turn.”
An essential artist, and a reference for her colleagues, Patti Smith has been admired by fans for more than half a century. Her music, compositions, poetry, and introspective writings earned her her 2010 “Just Kids,” National Book Award.
She ended her speech by paying tribute to another artist, the French poet René Daumal, from whose work she read – in English – part of the letter addressed to his wife before his death: “Seeing that we are nothing, we want to become she said. “Wanting to become, we live.”
Dressed in her traditional black waistcoat with long gray hair, Patti Smith sang “People Have The Power.”
She then developed the idea with AFP, considering that if “artists can inspire people, if they can gather people, they can give them hope, (…) in the end, it is not the artists who bring change but the people”.
“By voting, by taking the initiative, by huge demonstrations, it is the people who are bringing about change.” A responsibility that is all the more overwhelming as “the world we live in is going very badly,” she said, citing “unprecedented heatwaves,” “famine,” and “unprecedented climate events.” “Every gesture, every gesture is important.”
These days, the singer confessed that she writes as she always did. “Writing songs, writing poems, writing another book – I’m always busy, I always have something to do.”
After receiving the Legion of Honor, she confessed that she will use this inspiration for even “more, better work.” “Being a kind of mini-ambassador for the country is a real joy for me,” she said.