Stevie Wonder was Saturday awarded France's top cultural honour, which he dedicated to his deceased mother. The award which was originally earmarked for Wonder in 1981 had an almost 30 year delay in presentation owing to conflicting schedules, according to officials.
"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," said an emotional Wonder, clad in marine blue striped suit, as he received the Commander of Arts and Letters award from French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand.
"As I was... listening to what you were saying, I had a flash in my memory, the memory of 1964, when I came to Paris, France for the first time. I came with my mother," 59-year-old Wonder told Mitterrand. His mother died in 2006.
"As citizen, administrator and culture minister I just called to say we love you," Mitterrand told Wonder, mixing French and English and referring to one of Wonder's biggest hits which featured in the film "The Woman in Red."
Mitterand praised Wonder as "music's familiar genius."
A political activist who fought for Martin Luther King day (signed into law in 1983) honouring the slain civil rights leader, Wonder more recently backed US President Barack Obama's run for office in 2008.
During the ceremony, he made a pitch for Obama's push to extend health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.
"I'm very encouraged you have it here, in this country," he said, referring the France's near-universal coverage. "Don't change."
Le Ministre de la Culture Frédéric Mitterand (L) and Jack Lang (R)
25th Victoires de la Musique
The French equivalent of the US Grammys or British Brit Awards was held after the presentation of the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres honour. At the the Victoires de la Musique ceremony Stevie was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award presented by another legend, Charles Aznavour.
Stevie enthralled the audience for just over ten minutes with a medley of songs - Overjoyed, My Cherie Amour, Free, Sir Duke and Superstition. See below for video of performance.