Beyonce, Michelle Obama, and Malala Yousafzai Unite to Push for Girls Education

27 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Beyoncé and Michelle Obama Hug It Out at Global Citizen Festival.

Saturday’s Global Citizen Festival brought politicians, celebrities, and musicians from all over the globe together in New York’s Central Park to promote global development.

There were serious issues at hand, like girls’ education, refugee crises, and climate change measures, but also a lot of great music and entertainment. The festival aims to raise awareness about issues such as inequality, climate change and poverty and was timed to coincide with the announcement of the United Nations’ new Global Goals which seek to put an end to these problems by 2030. PHOTO: KEVIN MAZUR/GETTY IMAGES FOR GLOBAL CITIZEN Some of the biggest names in music and politics from Beyonce to European prime ministers rallied on Saturday in a concert aimed at mobilising action to eradicate extreme poverty.

Millions of “actions,” Global Citizen’s preferred term for tweets, Facebook posts, petitions, and other digital acts of advocacy were piling up. The broken piano forced Coldplay to remove “Clocks” and “Paradise” from their set list, but the group soldiered on and made amends for the shortened set by closing things out with a moving new ballad titled “Amazing Day,” which the band rehearsed at their soundcheck the day before. “And the view / the whole Milky Way / In your eyes / I’m drifting away,” Martin tenderly croons on the new cut, which could be the first sampling fans have of Coldplay’s upcoming (and possibly final) LP, tentatively titled A Head Full of Dreams. “And in your arms / I just want to sway / Amazing day.” Coldplay’s broken piano also threatened the band’s other big surprise: A surprise appearance by Ariana Grande, who joined the group to sing her Harry Styles-penned cut “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart.” Martin and Grande rehearsed their duet on piano, which left Coldplay to improvise the performance on Saturday.

Among the speakers at the event were U2’s Bono, actors including Leonardo DiCaprio, Katie Holmes, Hugh Jackman and Salma Hayek, comedian Stephen Colbert, Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, US first lady Michelle Obama and vice president Joe Biden, and Swedish prime minister Stefan Lfven. The Global Citizen initiative, according to its website, was created by the Global Poverty Project in 2012 to promote campaigns that seek to have a positive impact on people’s lives and the environment.It is backed by the UN. “A world where every child has a chance to go to school, a world where women and girls are protected from violence, and where preventable diseases aren’t holding people back,” its website says. Comperes Stephen Colbert and Hugh Jackman acted as buffers between a crowd that had done their part and wanted to be entertained, and organisers who wanted to drive home their message by reeling out a laundry list of A-list celebrities, politicians and CEOs. It says it works with other NGOs, business leaders, world leaders and global citizens in its efforts “to build the largest movement of people taking actions and calling on governments to support policies that would significantly impact the world’s poor”. The 18-year-old, who was shot in 2012 for defying a Taliban ban on education, said that the world did not lack money. ”We have billions and trillions of dollars but where the money goes is the military, things that are useless to society,” she said.

He tried one more time before throwing it to the audience with a “here, you try it.” “It takes a special kind of music talent to suck at the vuvuzela,” Colbert declared. Jill Biden arrived. “I know politicians aren’t supposed to have strong views, but I don’t care,” the veep said. “I love Coldplay.” Biden then remarked that while it was obvious he had been in politics for decades, his wife doesn’t look as old. “I married a much younger woman,” he joked. “She’s 30 years younger than me.” (She is eight years younger.) President Barack Obama appeared via video screen. However, Martin’s day didn’t end with the Coldplay set as he appeared later in the festival during Ed Sheeran’s set to join that singer on the X hit “Thinking Out Loud.” “When they asked me to play [Global Citizen], they asked me what song fitted in my sort of vibe, I wanted to play a song with someone who I’m a massive fan and admirer of, so I might as well bring him on stage,” Sheeran said while introducing Martin.

On Friday, the UN endorsed a goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 — in part by focusing on opportunities for girls, an investment with sweeping consequences for families’ futures. Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t just a movie star and perennial Oscar nominee, he’s also an environmental activist and United Nations “messenger for peace.” DiCaprio took the stage at the festival to give an impassioned speech about the dangers of climate change. “Right now Europe is paralyzed trying to absorb the influx of over a million Syrian refugees,” he told the crowd. “But more than a billion people, most of them in Asia, currently live in low-lying coastal regions. A few minutes later, Common was performing “The Light,” when Sting suddenly broke in to perform “I’ll Be Watching You.” Millennials, it turns out, love Sting. Presidents, prime ministers and diplomats from the UN’s 193 members stood and applauded loudly after General Assembly president Mogens Lykketoft announced the approval of the development roadmap.

Despite wide official endorsements of the so-called Sustainable Development Goals, the UN estimates that achieving them would cost the world up to $5 trillion each year — a huge commitment. Rolling Stone spoke to Global Citizen co-founder Ryan Gall about Martin’s 15-year role as the festival’s curator, which kicked off with the 2015 fest. “[Martin] didn’t want to do just a one-off. Finishing with A Sky Full of Stars and their new, slightly plodding but completely appropriate track Amazing Day, the band then made way for an hour of messages from stars. Beyonce put on a crowd-rousing show of dance pop with an emphasis on her feminist themes but performed an unlikely acoustic duet with Sheeran of “Drunk in Love,” which she usually sings with husband Jay Z. He even brought Sesame Street’s Big Bird with him, to discuss the role of childhood education in implementing important sanitary measures in developing countries.

Pop starlet Ariana Grande joined Coldplay, while Common’s hard-charging hip-hop set merged into “Every Breath You Take” as a bearded Sting suddenly appeared. Pinault remained on stage and, after an interruption from Gucci C.E.O. and Chime for Change partner Marco Bizzarri, leaned into the introduction of the night: “Please welcome, our partner, who is a mother, a philanthropist, a collector of Grammys, and a volcano of talent: Beyoncé. Unilever CEO Paul Polman, who recently defended the company over allegations of the mercury poisoning of former workers in Tamil Nadu town in India, came on to talk about responsible business. Beyonce, playing just her second concert this year, was the top attraction for many fans who obtained tickets not by paying but by committing to activism ranging from writing letters to volunteering.

From the UK via video link, secretary for international development Justine Greening and David Cameron talked about the great strides the UK has made with foreign aid and trying to eradicate FGM and child marriages – despite the UK having been heavily criticised for how it has handled both the Syrian refugee crisis and its approach to Muslims. It changes everything. ” 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings. Other performers included rock veterans Pearl Jam and Coldplay, fresh English pop sensation Ed Sheeran, socially conscious rapper Common and — in an effort to raise the profile of the festival in India — leading Bollywood singer Sunidhi Chauhan. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again. The crowd, like all crowds, seemed at times too busy Snapchat-ing and Instagram-ing to really cheer, but the sheer power of Beyoncé’s choreography, vocals, and interstitial videos held them in a state of awe.

Sheeran’s set was the opposite of the collective pat on the back that came before, with his minimal live set-up of two mics, acoustic guitar and loop pedal feeling like he could be performing in a local pub. Ariana & Jay-Z at the #GlobalCitizenFestival in NYC yesterday @arianagrande #JayZ #arianagrande #arianator #myeverything #honeymoontour#NewYork #arianators #music #moonlightbae #moonlight #globalcitizen The First Lady and the reigning Queen of Pop hugged each other tightly, and then Obama once again emphatically asked the audience to advocate for the education of girls. “These are our girls,” she reminded the audience.

Even when playing on a stage that had to accommodate dozens of other speakers over the course of the night, Beyoncé still provided an epic stage production. Huge numbers like that were then thrown around by another tranche of politicians, including prime ministers from Luxembourg (Xavier Bettel) and Malta (Joseph Muscat), who discussed their commitment to eradicating polio. There were appearances from Freda Pinto and Joe Biden, plus a video from Barack Obama before Common was joined on stage by a hirsute Sting, who performed I’ll Be Watching You. One executive said that “doing good is good business, especially when you’re in the business of helping build brands,” which sounds nice but means nothing. “There is no business case for enduring poverty,” Unilever C.E.O.

Constrained by time limits, later parts of Beyonce’s set became a hits medley: “Run the World (Girls)” into “Flawless” into “Feeling Myself.” The epic performance was like Beyoncé’s tribute to herself, and women in general. Beyoncé appeared out of a wooden container before performing a slowed-down, chopped-n-screwed version of Crazy In Love that segued into the original version.

Pearl Jam went all-out for their closing set, blasting through hits like “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” bringing Beyoncé on stage for a cover of “Redemption Song,” and even covering John Lennon’s “Imagine” (“there are few songs you hold in reverence as much as this one, but considering the message and the park he had such a connection to, it’s the one time you have to play it”). The first segment of the set saw her run through ballads and slower fare (Love On Top, Halo, 1+1) before she was joined by Sheeran for a Sheeranised – acoustic guitar, slow, British-accented rap verse – version of Drunk In Love.

Singer Eddie Vedder introduced “Unthought Known” by describing how he wrote the lyrics in a hotel room overlooking Central Park years ago. “I could never imagine playing it in the middle of the thing that inspired it.” Pearl Jam gave the night an epic send-off by covering Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” as a bunch of previous speakers rushed the stage to dance along. A single concert will never be a significant milestone in the fights to end extreme poverty, to increase access to education, to end polio for good, and to make foreign aid more efficient, but by the end of Saturday evening on the Great Lawn, perhaps a few thousand people had been inspired to push for change.

The second section could be described as “muscular feminism” as tracks such as 7/11 were interspersed with UFC fighter Ronda Rousey’s divisive “do nothing bitch” speech, Survivor and a dance routine punctuated by mimed gunshots. Eddie Vedder’s statement of “What a fucking day this is” did not do justice to an event that went big on message and diplomats, but struggled to balance that with another important element … entertainment.

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