NJ native Patti Smith receives key to New York City: I came 'to see what I was made of'

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  • Patti Smith
    American singer-songwriter, poet and visual artist
  • Lenny Kaye
    American guitarist, songwriter, producer, journalist
  • Bill de Blasio
    Bill de Blasio
    109th Mayor of New York City

Patti Smith, the rock 'n' roll icon from Deptford, was given the key to New York City on Monday, Dec. 27.

Mayor Bill de Blasio did the honor in the city's briefing room during his daily news conference. Smith was accompanied by long-time collaborator Lenny Kaye, and they performed their 1978 song “Ghost Dance.”

“Thank you so much, it's awesome,” Smith said. “I was thinking this morning when I learned of this honor what have I done in New York City, what have I given New York City to earn this? But most of all I thought of what New York City has given to me. I came here in 1967 from a rural area in South Jersey. I had just a few dollars in my pocket, nowhere to stay, no real prospects, but I came here to get a job and to see what I was made of.

“I found that the city with all of its diversity and possibilities. If you're willing to work and you maintain your enthusiasm, you make it.”

Smith, known as the punk poet laureate, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

It's a 75th birthday week for Smith and Kaye. Smith’s Tuesday, Dec. 28, show at Brooklyn Steel has been postponed to Feb. 22, and her annual birthday show, this year at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York, has been moved from her actual birthday on Dec. 30 to Feb. 24.

Kaye's 75th birthday was Monday, Dec. 27. His birthday show, at the Bowery Ballroom, has been moved from to Feb. 27. The North Brunswick native will release a new book, “Lightning Striking: Ten Transformative Moments in Rock and Roll,” on Jan. 11.

De Blasio has bestowed several keys to the city in the last few weeks of his final term as mayor. Recipients include filmmaker Spike Lee, Sen. Chuck Schumer and record man Clive Davis.

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“When we give the key to New York City, I like to think it's to people whose impact keeps on growing, growing and growing,” said de Blasio on Monday. “That is the truth about Patti Smith.”

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Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; cjordan@app.com.

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: NJ native Patti Smith receives key to NYC with Lenny Kaye

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