Stevie Wonder Speaks Out, Bono Surprises at Global Citizen Festival

Performances at the Global Citizen Festival included Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, John Mayer and Kings of Leon.











(from Billboard, September 29, 2013)

Saturday in New York City’s Central Park, Stevie Wonder “made believers” out of a crowd of over 60,000 young people at the Global Citizen Festival by rocking soulful, iconic music and proving the night was about more than just music.

U2 singer Bono introduced Wonder as the headliner for the show. Other well-known artists that made appearances included Kings of Leon, Alicia Keys and John Mayer. When asked about Wonder Bono replied, “The true disciple of Sir Duke. He raises our hopes when he raises his voice!”

Wonder played a large amount of his classic hits while he alternated between playing the piano, keyboard and even a keytar. Coincidentally, Saturday marked the 37th anniversary of Wonder’s signature album “Songs in the Key of Life.”

This event was the second annual Global Citizen Festival and is a free ticketed event hosted by the Global Poverty Project, a group that works to put an end to extreme poverty by 2030. Tickets were acquired by volunteering for the group to spread the word about various programs they host. With Wonder as a United Nations Messenger of Peace since 2009, he embraced the opportunity and said, “We will end extreme poverty in our lifetime. Together we can work it out, and we will reach our higher ground.”

As the most emotional part of the night, Wonder touched on the topic of gun violence and performed John Lennon’s “Imagine” to send the message home. Wonder said the song brings great emotion to his heart because Lennon was killed by a gunshot a short distance from Central Park.

John Mayer’s performance was called polished even after his vocal cord surgery. Mayer showed off his great guitar skills during his most well-known songs and even a made a note to the Grateful Dead, who wrote the original version to his rendition of “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad.”

Alicia Keys also made a powerful impact through her performance in her hometown. She decided to bring up an issue of her own when she spoke of gender equality to the crowd. “If you empower women, we’re gonna change the world!” she said.

Kings of Leon kicked off the day, but many fans were still in line for the performance and missed the only rock band of the day.

At last year’s concert there were three major acts and two opening acts, but CEO Hugh Evans said organizers deliberately chose to make the switch to four major acts instead. He stressed, “It’s not just about a concert, it’s a true movement.  . . . We want this to grow.  . . . And we want those global citizens to call on Barack Obama, to call on David Cameron, to call on the new PM of Australia Tony Abbott to do what it takes for the poor and the vulnerable.”