ADDIS ABABA – Father of Ethio jazz Mualtu Astatke has been awarded one of the highest honors of France, the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, on Thursday.
French culture minister Franck Riester, who has been here on a two-day official visit to Ethiopia since Wednesday, bestowed the insignia of Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters upon artist Mulatu.
Mulatu was honored for his prominent representation of the culture of his country and Africa in his music known around the world.
“Few artists are to embody in the eyes of the world a musical genre so strongly rooted in a national culture. Mulatu Astatke is one of them,” said the French minister in a tweeted message.
The Jimma-born artist is first and foremost a composer but also a multi-instrumentalist, playing the vibraphone, keyboards, and organs.
Mulatu became an international star in his 60s, thanks to the Ethiopiques series of reissue albums and the subsequent use of his music in the Jim Jarmusch movie Broken Flowers.
The musician is the second Ethiopian musician to receive similar honor from France, next to Mahmoud Ahmed. Mahmoud was awarded the Order of Arts and Letters in July 2016.