More Good Voices Join the Cause to Raise Consciousness!
A SoundPress.net Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch
Awareness, mobilization, momentum and music were the themes of the Global Citizen Festival held at the Great Lawn in Central Park in New York City on September 28, 2013. The concert was broadcast on a number of networks and live streams such as Palladia, Fuse and YouTube.
The second annual Global Citizen Festival in New York City was a huge success.
Global Citizen is part of the Global Poverty Project in partnership with the Cotton On Foundation. Collectively they are a non-profit organization with an ambitious plan to end extreme poverty by 2030. It is a world wide movement of action, advocacy, campaigns, communication, education and supporting groups that are already effectively reducing poverty.
The second annual Global Citizen Festival was about awareness. Throughout the concert ideas and plans were presented so that the average person can be a part of the solution. The event was also a big shout out to the world leaders attending the General Assembly of the United Nations earlier in the week that more needs to be done to end global poverty.
Alicia Keys was a show stopper with her powerful performance and multi-member band.
The concert was a free show. Tickets were earned by fans that went to www.globalfestival.com to learn more and participate in the four fundamental goals of Global Citizen which are education, global partnerships, health and women's equality. By taking actions fans accumulated points to receive tickets to the concert - a win win arrangement.
The Global Citizen Festival showcased a diverse range of musicians such as Kings of Leon, Alicia Keys, John Mayer and Stevie Wonder. There was also an impressive list of hosts, speakers and dignitaries including Barbara Pierce Bush, Soledad O'Brien, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and rock royalty in the form of U2's Bono whose stage name literally means "good voice".
John Mayer jammed on several newer songs and some fan favorites during his anticipated slot at Global Citizen Festival.
It was warm and sunny in NYC, an ideal day for an outdoor festival. It was reported that over 75,000 fans were in Central Park and over 15 million people were watching. The stage had the big red circle which is the logo of Global Citizen along with screens and banks of lights. The event started around 4 p.m. Lead host Soledad O'Brien welcomed the crowd as she explained that Global Citizens' goal is to end extreme poverty by 2030. She noted that everyone present at the concert had taken action in this effort.
Next, the grandchildren of Nelson Mandela of South Africa greeted the world audience. They talked about their foundation Africa Rising which is "a conduit for the New African Generation that is committed to promoting Africa through a series of campaigns and programs that address the continent's socio-economic challenges."
Elvis Costello added a quick acoustic showcase as the stage set change took place.
Along with NGOs a number of corporations such as HP and FedEx were recognized for their efforts to end poverty. Many success stories were shared on screen and through speeches during the entire event. All addressed Global Citizens' key issues of education, global partnerships, health and women's equality. Many world leaders and organizations such as Global Partnership for Education were on hand to outline accomplishments with a reminder that more will be done.
The first musical act of the day was Grammy award winning Kings of Leon (KOL). They took the stage in bright sunshine. Their music reflected various influences such as alternative, AOR, blues, pop and rock. Their sixth album Mechanical Bull was released just a few days before their appearance at the Global Citizen Festival as part of their 2013 fall tour.
The hits just kept on coming as Stevie Wonder awed the New York audience with his energetic performance.
KOL used the screens to enhance the energetic set of music that they played. Their sound was diverse especially since they have different singers and innovative drum sequences. KOL was engaging with songs that crossed styles and featured short yet succulent solos. The highlight of their set was a sizzling version of the popular "Sex on Fire".
"Empower women, empower communities," declared Barbara Pierce Bush. Barbara along with The Princess of Denmark discussed women's rights and the importance of educating women and girls. Next Bono came out to introduce the first female president of Liberia. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf shared how women are changing Liberia for the better. She talked about achievements and stated how important women's leadership will be to the next generation.
Bono didn't sing but he did rap an impressive introduction for the legendary Little Stevie Wonder.
Speaking of powerful women, up next was Alicia Keys who appropriately started her set with "New Day". Alicia was wearing a sexy black dress. She was fronting a full band with dancers. Keys' presentation was well coordinated and her voice was commanding. When she was not center stage she was crafting her magic behind the grand piano.
Alicia was potent making it a point to talk about hope mixed in with her hits including a passionate "If I Ain't Got You", a hot "Girl on Fire" and the poetic yet pointed "Streets of New York (City Life)". Keys embodied the essence of a powerful woman through her voice along with her strong stage presence. Alicia is also well known for using her celebrity to uplift communities around the world.
During the next set change a children's choir from Staten Island 's PS22 entertained the crowd leading into a number of talks about improving the availability of doctors and vaccines for people in an effort to decrease child mortality.
Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, Bono and Janelle Monae at the Global Citizen Festival.
John Mayer presented a diverse set of new songs, classics and covers. He started with "Queen of California" from the Born and Raised record. The tune had a free flowing feel to it that allowed John and his band to jam for a bit heralding an approach that was to be used throughout his time on stage.
Mayer mentioned that "Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad" was a song made popular by the Grateful Dead. John with his talented team played the Woody Guthrie tune with a delightful Dead vibe with sassy solos. "Paper Doll" also a new track was intriguing with its innovative lyrical and musical phrasings. John closed with "Gravity" which showcased gorgeous guitar leads throughout the rise and fall of this signature song.
Bono returned to rap and sing the many accomplishments of Stevie Wonder as he introduced the superstar. It was almost like preaching. Stevie had a big band with backing vocalists to support his hit heavy set that started with "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You". Mr. Wonder quickly connected with the large crowd in Central Park encouraging folks to clap and sing along.
Many speakers were featured including Bono and Nelson Mandela's grandchildren.
"Higher Ground' was elevated with thick funky rhythms punctuating the important points of the song. Additional vocals, horn and plenty of percussion took the tune to an even higher level. Stevie and company gave a similar groove heavy treatment to The Beatles' "Day Tripper" driving the pop tune in many funky directions. Later Wonder would present a wonderful version of John Lennon's "Imagine" with a few of his own comments about gun control.
Stevie and his team were tight. They captured the crowd with an animated "Signed, Sealed, Delivered". The hits continued with the super cool "Superstition", a lovely "Isn't She Lovely" and the classic "I Just Called". Wonder won the crowd over from the moment he took to the stage to the last notes as he closed out a second successful Global Citizen Festival.
The Global Citizen Festival was a celebration of achievements. Global Citizen is part of a movement to build on and expand successful projects. The Global Citizen Festival is an appeal to citizens and world leaders to support changes that will end extreme poverty in our lifetime. The Global Citizen Festival was fun but how is Global Citizen changing the world?
A revitalized Kings of Leon opened the musical portion of the festivities.
The concert and the organization are focused on four key policy areas with targets. The first is education. Global Citizen is calling on the US government to back Global Partnership for Education (GPE) the world's only multilateral for delivering basic primary education. The second goal Global Partnerships involves supporting both private and public organizations in their efforts to end extreme poverty.
When it comes to health, Global Citizens aims to finance training and deployment of community health workers. They also reach out to corporations asking them to provide free products and services to health care providers in the third world. Lastly, Global Citizen is calling on UN leaders to ensure that equality for girls and women remains a development priority now and in the future.
The scene in Central Park as night falls and John Mayer takes the stage.
In the coming months, Global Citizen will be campaigning on funding and policy changes around the issues of 1) improving access to life-saving vaccines 2) training many more healthcare workers in Africa 3) obtaining decent education for the 61 million kids who are currently missing school and 4) increasing the quality of information that companies publish about their supply chains so that people have a better understand of where goods come from.
For more information about becoming a Global Citizen and making the world a better place please visit http://www.globalcitizen.org.
An estimated crowd of over 75,000 global citizens witnessed the second historic festival.
(Originally Published on October 01, 2013)
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