Mika receives Lebanon’s National Order of Merit for Beirut tribute concert

Held last September, the event raised funds for the recovery effort after the Beirut Port explosion

L-R: Lebanese-French singer Mika holds the Lebanese National Order of Merit: Silver Palm with his brother Fortune. The artist received the distinction for his I Love Beirut concert held to raise funds for Beirut Port explosion recovery effort. Instagram.com/mikainstagram
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Mika's concert for Beirut has been honoured by the Lebanese government.

The French-Lebanese singer was awarded the Lebanese National Order of Merit – Silver Palm, for his I Love Beirut concert.

In an image posted to his Instagram page, the pop star is seen holding the medal beside his brother, Fortune, with the Lebanese flag in the background.

In the post, Mika spoke of his pride at accepting the award, noting the sacrifices made by his family, as well as praising the resilient spirit of the Lebanese people.

"Today I think of my Lebanese grandmother, my mother, my aunts, my family, who brought the Lebanese soul to my life at home, in Paris, in London, everywhere I lived," he said on Instagram.

"Citizen of this uprooted world, Lebanon flows through my veins. This reciprocal love, so unexpected and so poignant, makes me happy and very proud of my heritage, especially in these difficult times for Lebanon. Thank you from me and all my family.”

A big production

The achievement caps off a worthy and momentous task for Mika.

Held on September 19, after the Lebanese capital's August 4 port explosion, Mika corralled friends and crew to produce the pre-recorded concert, which was shot in Beirut, London, Rome and Los Angeles. The show featured nearly a dozen guest singers, including Kylie Minogue, Rufus Wainwright and Lebanese artists such as poet Etel Adnan and indie group Mashrou' Leila.

Proceeds from the ticketed streams went to Red Cross Lebanon and Save the Children, which both remain involved in the recovery efforts in Beirut.

Mika was born in Beirut before fleeing with his family to Paris in 1982 at the age of one, because of the civil war.

While a British citizen, he has never forgotten his roots. Throughout his 16-year career, with hits including Grace Kelly and Relax, Take It Easy, he has often spoke at length about the role his heritage plays in his work.

During his career, Mika has performed a number of sold-out concerts in Lebanon, including a 2010 appearance as part of the Baalbeck International Festival and a 2015 gig in Beirut.

In 2013, at the Mawazine Festival in Morocco, Mika said his dream project was to release an album of songs performed in English, Arabic and French.

He said the concept was inspired by growing up among the Lebanese diaspora in Paris. “I was surrounded by a people who spoke three languages in one sentence,” he said.

“I grew up listening to Arabic music in that context. I was listening to people like Fairuz and the purity of the likes of Umm Kulthum and all these other acts that I discovered. That made me realise how much of that clash of cultures has influenced my music."