Elton John was given the top French civilian award, the Legion d’Honneur, during a ceremony Friday at Élysée Palace, where the British icon was received the award from President Emmanuel Macron.
After receiving the award at the annual Fete de la Musique, the Rocketman singer spoke to a crowd alongside Macron, using the opportunity to address his charity work, the Associated Press reports.
“Like music, the fight against AIDS has been my passion for many many years,” John told the audience. “And like music this fight reminds me every day of the extraordinary power of the human spirit. And that things that bind us are stronger than those that divide us. It is this magical human spirit I will carry with me as a proud member of the Legion d’Honneur.”
He added that the fight against AIDS reminds him “each day of the extraordinary power of the human spirit.” “It is this magical human spirit that I will carry with me as a proud member of the Legion of Honor,” John added.
J'ai besoin de vous pour sauver 16 millions de vies. Soyez au rendez-vous, je compte sur vous. https://t.co/9MuIZ2CHrx
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 21, 2019
John was hailed as a “melodic genius” by Macron’s office and for being one of the first gay artists who elevated the LGBTQ community. Élysée Palace called John “an icon that knew how to set an example.”
During the ceremony, Macron asked world leaders to give donations to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria ahead of an October summit in Lyon, France. The French president also tweeted a call to action alongside a video of the ceremony with John.
Since its inception in 1992 in the U.S. and 1993 in the U.K., John’s charity The Elton John AIDS Foundation has raised over $500 million in the fight against AIDS.