Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Wonder-ful way to battle poverty

Stevie Wonder performs at the Global Citizen Festival.

Stevie Wonder gave an electrifying performance at New York's Central Park in front of thousands of fans and several world leaders, singing his hits and calling for an end to world poverty.

U2 frontman Bono gave a funky, rousing introduction to Wonder, who headlined the second Global Citizen Festival annual concert. Wonder wowed audience members, who danced and sang along to songs including Superstition and Isn't She Lovely.

"This is a global celebration," Wonder yelled to the crowd. "We will end extreme world poverty in our lifetime."

Wonder has been a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on disabilities since 2009. Messengers have recognised talents in the arts, academia and sports and help bring attention to United Nations work.

The Global Citizen Festival coincides with the UN General Assembly. Fans earned free tickets for helping spread the word or volunteering to help end world poverty. World leaders who attended included Un secretary general Ban Ki-moon and Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

"There is so much energy here tonight. We can power the world," Mr Ban told the crowd.

Will.i.am and Olivia Wilde were among the celebrities at the concert.

Wonder ended the five-hour event, electrifying the crowd during his hour-long performance. He even teased concert-goers before singing Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours.

"That's it!" he yelled, then added: "Y'all wanna jam some more?"

John Mayer also performed and was a favourite with his solo work on the guitar, performing Slow Dancing In A Burning Room, and Gravity. "It's so nice to be here," he said.

Other performers included Kings of Leon and Alicia Keys, whose set included No One and Empire State of Mind.

"I believe if we don't care about each other, who will?" the singer said. "Help me celebrate tonight so we never forget."

Wonder also had a touching moment when he sang John Lennon's Imagine and encouraged the audience to lobby for more gun laws.

"Can you believe blind people have guns?" he said. "Let's keep it real. Ridiculous."

Last year's Global Citizen Festival featured Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Foo Fighters and The Black Keys. The festival's non-profit partners pledged 1.3 billion dollars (£807m) in new fund-raising commitments last year.

Wonder, who played the piano and harmonica, was joined onstage by R&B singers Maxwell and Janelle Monae.

"I can't believe this is happening," Maxwell gushed, when singing Superstition.

AP

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