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Wyclef Jean has high praise for Angelina Jolie, who celebrates her 38th birthday today with fiancé Brad Pitt, and kids Maddox, 11, Pax, 9, Zahara, 8,  Shiloh, 7, Knox and Vivienne, both 4.

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Her double mastectomy, revealed last month, only solidified his respect for the woman who has stood by Brad’s side this week during premieres for his drama World War Z in London and Paris.

“Angelina is a very strong woman,” Wyclef tells me Monday during the CFDA Fashion Awards held at Alice Tully Hall in NYC. “She represents strength. There’s a lot of women in our world that have to do that, and I always wish her the best.”

He continues, “Her strength is not just physical—she represents an era where her name will be in history books, and not really for the fact that she’s a great actress, but for the fact that she’s one of the greatest human beings who didn’t just talk it, but she actually acted on things she said from her humanitarian work to her whole health and giving people strength.”

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Having joined the couple on a relief mission to Haiti for his charity Yéle Haiti, the musician believes Angelina and Brad, who got engaged in April 2012, make a great couple.

“They understand each other,” he says. “They’re best friends first.”

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With their impending wedding approaching, Wyclef plans to purchase presents for the little ones in lieu of the happy couple.

“I’d definitely get something for the kids,” he says. “Hair product is important—kids like hair product. Cool-smelling soaps, cool-looking decorating towels with different colors—that’d be cool for the kids.”     

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During the pre-event cocktail party, Wyclef mugs with Ethan Hawke (who is wearing a shiny suit) as stars like kelly-green clad Sofia Vergara, gold lamé-wearing and tramp stamp-baring Nicole Richie, Kerry Washington, Mary-Kate Olsen, Elizabeth OlsenTiger Woods, Lindsay Vonn, Liv Tyler, Adriana Lima, Jessica Chastain, Rose Byrne, Brad Goreski and Karolina Kurkova stride through.

Bravo’s Andy Cohen gets ready to host. How does he feel?

“I’m in front of a scary crowd,” he nervously yuks.

What do you respect most about Angelina Jolie? Tweet us @okmagazine.

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