Pharrell Williams was presented with France’s most prestigious arts honor in Paris on Monday (March 6).
The 43-year-old received the Officier des Arts et des Lettres Award by French Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay, who pinned the green and white medal onto his jacket in recognition of his contribution to the arts in a ceremony held during Paris Fashion Week.
“France is the centre of art,” Pharrell said during the ceremony, adding that he was “grateful” to have been honoured, while Audrey called the Happy singer “a friend of France”.
According to BFM TV, he also told reporters, “I wish every boy and girl who looks like me in this country will be able to do much more than I achieved. I wish all the black little girls will also be able to do what they want and much more… each time you opened a door for me, you have shown the road to kids like me, you told them they could make it.”
“I just want all the kids here to know that they can do it too and if they feel like they can’t, the city and the government needs to listen to them,” he explained. “If they feel like they can’t do it, then something is wrong and that’s what we need to work on next, cos it’s not about me, it’s about them.”
The singer, who follows in the footsteps of previous recipients Michael Keaton, Sharon Stone, Elton John and Tim Burton, seemed overwhelmed with the honor, saying, “It’s also an opportunity like ‘woah’, it’s like ‘why me?’ but it’s also like ‘wow’.”
Pharrell, who is in Paris attending Fashion Week shows, recently became a father of four after his fashion designer wife Helen Lasichanh gave birth to triplets in January. They have not revealed the babies’ name or sexes but their spokesperson confirmed mum and babies were “healthy and happy”.
They are already parents to eight-year-old son Rocket.