Page last updated at 18:16 GMT, Saturday, 6 March 2010

Stevie Wonder receives top French honour

Stevie Wonder
Wonder was named a Commander of Arts and Letters in 1981

US singer Stevie Wonder has collected one of France's top cultural honours in Paris, 30 years after he was first named to receive it.

The 59-year-old Motown star was made a Commander of the Arts and Letters by French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand.

Mr Mitterrand praised the singer as "music's familiar genius".

Wonder was named a Commander in 1981, but officials said scheduling conflicts had delayed his formal decoration.

"I receive this honour in memory of my mother and in memory of all of those that have made it possible for me to stand here today," Wonder said.

The singer was also in Paris to perform and collect a lifetime achievement prize at France's biggest musical awards show on Saturday.

"All this in one day, it's almost too much for me. I'm breathless," he added.

Mr Mitterrand told Wonder: "As citizen, administrator and culture minister I just called to say we love you."

Previous recipients of the honour include actors Roger Moore and Dennis Hopper and punk singer Patti Smith.

The Order of Arts and Letters was established in the 1950s to recognise those who have contributed significantly to the arts in France and throughout the world.

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