Once upon a time, the grandiose ambition of a child was to be known as the biggest and best in the whole wide world. Saturday, Sept. 27, under the sun and later the moonlight on Central Park’s Great Lawn, six acts showed and proved that they have reached a certain degree of major success in the musical ranks, as they were the selected artists for the third annual Global Citizen Festival.
A significant number of people were expected to be in attendance, as the slated performers—DJ Tiesto, the Roots, Fun, Carrie Underwood, No Doubt and headliner Jay Z—all boast a devoted core fan base. What made the throng of 60,000 that witnessed this year’s Global Citizen Festival unique was the way entry was acquired.
Since its Sept. 29, 2012, debut, Global Citizen proved to be an innovative online platform and mobile application that educates, tracks and rewards activist action through a point-scoring system. Meaning, 80 percent of the attendees had to put in work for tickets. Guests won admission by taking action, such as signing petitions, emailing world leaders or sharing content with their social networks, to campaign for positive change, thus earning points that were then used to enter a lottery to win tickets.
The messages spread urged world leaders to make commitments on the issues of vaccines, education and sanitation, with the ultimate goal of putting a dent in world poverty. “Change only takes place when and where there is action,” Jay Z said in a statement earlier this summer. “I’m joining the 2014 Global Citizen Festival because I believe through actions, whether it be by raising awareness, getting involved or educating ourselves, the goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 is possible.”
Lending credence to the declarations made from the artist world, dignitaries pledged allegiance as well. Organizers say the movement has resulted in $1.3 billion in new funding. Just as valuable are the 35 commitments from world leaders that will directly benefit the world’s poor.
“It is my job to end poverty by 2030,” said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group. “We can be the generation that will end extreme poverty.”
Kim also declared the World Bank has a $15 billion commitment to improve water and sanitation. The prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, a rock star in his own right, also pledged to have a toilet in every home in India by 2019. The president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, explained THAT Liberia has reduced child mortality by two-thirds since 1990. Furthermore, she said she and other African leaders are pledging $700 million for vaccines.
Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway, committed the nation to spending $250 million over the next few years to support immunizations. Even President Barack Obama stopped by via pre-recorded video to remind the crowd of their causes. “You are now part of the global fight to end extreme poverty, and this is a fight we can win,” said Obama.
As for the music, the highlights for my particular pallet were the Roots, giving it up as they always do; Alicia Keys, back rocking the braids and the beads and her new single, “We Are Here,” with musicians from Israel and Palestine alongside her; Sting and Gwen Stefani dueting during No Doubt’s set; and, of course, hip-hop’s Bonnie and Clyde, Jay and Beyonce.
After Beyonce lent vocals to “Holy Grail,” Jay needed to reaffirm what the night was about. “If you’re committed to this Global Citizen movement, we need lighters, lighters, lighters, lighters!” as a prelude to “Young Forever.” “We’re gonna end extreme poverty by 2030! It’s on you, New York City!” was the closing message.
A sidebar: With this influx of loot being floated around, you’d think we can talk about this thing called reparations … never mind.
I’m gone. Holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.