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Tag Archives: Stevie Wonder

One World: Together at Home, streamed live on 18 April, will support UN response fund

Lady Gaga is to curate One World: Together at Home, a live-streamed and televised benefit concert in support of the World Health Organizations Covid-19 solidarity response fund and in celebration of health workers around the world.

The lineup includes Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas, Lizzo, J Balvin, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Alanis Morissette, Burna Boy, Andrea Bocelli, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Elton John, John Legend, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban and Lang Lang.

The US talk show hosts Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert will host the event, which broadcasts live across the US television networks ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as being streamed online, at 8pm EST on 18 April.

BBC One will show an adapted version of the concert on 19 April, including exclusive performances from UK artists and interviews with frontline health workers. The details of the broadcast are yet to be announced.

Other celebrities expected to appear include David Beckham, Idris and Sabrina Elba, Kerry Washington, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Shah Rukh Khan and Sesame Street cast members.

The WHO and the social action platform Global Citizen have partnered to produce the event. The latters Together at Home series, launched last month, has featured performances from artists in isolation including Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello and Rufus Wainwright.

In a WHO press conference, Lady Gaga said she had helped to raise $35m (28m) for Global Citizen in the past week. She clarified that One World was not a fundraising telethon and would focus on entertainment and messages of solidarity, with philanthropists and businesses urged to donate to the Covid-19 solidarity response fund ahead of the event.

The WHOs general director, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said:We may have to be apart physically for a little while, but we can still come together virtually to enjoy great music. The One World: Together at Home concert represents a powerful show of solidarity against a common threat.

This article was amended on 6 April 2020. Lady Gaga stated that philanthropists and businesses were being urged to donate to the organisation, rather than fans as an earlier version said. This has been corrected.

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Singers shows solidarity with sports stars after the president said players who have knelt on the field to protest police brutality were sons of bitches

Stevie Wonder has shown his solidarity with sports stars who were criticised by US president Donald Trump for kneeling on the field during the national anthem.

Trump prompted outrage among NFL and NBA players when he said on Friday that players who have knelt, sat or raised fists to protest police brutality against black people, were sons of bitches and should be made to stand for the Star Spangled Banner or be fired.

Players responded to the insult with rage, labelling the president a bum and an asshole.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was also critical, saying in a statement: Divisive comments like [Trumps] demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL.

The situation further deteriorated when Stephen Curry, star player of the Golden State Warriors, said he voted no to the NBA champions visiting the White House in February and Trump promptly rescinded the invite.

The president tweeted: Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team, Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!

In their own statement, the Warriors accepted they would not be going to the White House. But they said they would use their trip to Washington to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion.

Cleveland Cavaliers star forward LeBron James released a video on Saturday saying Trump had tried to divide the country. Hes now using sports as the platform to try to divide us, James said. We all know how much sports brings us together … Its not something I can be quiet about.

The controversy moved outside the sports industry on Saturday night when Stevie Wonder, performing at the Global Citizens Festival in New Yorks Central Park, said he was taking a knee for America to cheers from the crowd.

With the help of his son Kwame Morris he knelt down on stage before saying a prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of our world.


WATCH: Stevie Wonder takes a knee on the stage “for America” at #GCFest

September 24, 2017

Back on the sports field, the trend spread to baseball, with Oaklands catcher Bruce Maxwell becoming the first major league baseball player to take a knee during the anthem.


VIDEO: Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell becomes first Major League Baseball player to take a knee during anthem

September 24, 2017

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Elvis wanted an FBI badge from Nixon. Jacko fought drink-driving with Reagan. Jagger got lovebombed by Blair. Are these the strangest back-room deals in politics?

Relations between pop stars and politicians have always been awkward. Each wants something off the other. The politician wants glamour, the pop star wants to be taken seriously. The result, more often than not, is a stalemate.

The famous 1970 meeting between Elvis Presley and President Richard Nixon was never going to be easy. At 6.30am, Elvis had dropped off a six-page letter at the White House, asking for a meeting with the president to tackle the problem of drug abuse among the young. He wished, he said, to counter the influence of the drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS, Black Panthers, etc. Above all, he wanted to be made a Federal Agent at Large, and be awarded the badge to go with it. Appropriately enough, his paranoia about drugs was exacerbated by the quantity of drugs he had consumed.

Elvis got his badge. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

His letter triggered a panicky exchange of memos between different presidential aides. If the president wants to meet with some bright young people outside of the government, Presley might be a perfect one to start with, read one, against which HR Haldeman, the White House chief of staff, added, You must be kidding, before initialling the box marked Approve.

The half-hour meeting went pretty well, all things considered, though at one point Elvis went off on a rant against the Beatles, leaving Nixon unsure how to react. The Beatles, I think, are kind of anti-American, said Elvis. They came over here. Made a lot of money. And then went back to England. And they said some anti-American stuff when they got back.

Nixon gets a close look at Elviss get-up, watched by White House aide Egil Krogh. Photograph: Getty Images

The White House aide Egil Krogh, who transcribed the conversation, couldnt work out what Elvis was on about. From the look of surprise on the presidents face when Elvis said this, I was convinced the president didnt know what he was talking about either.

But the odd couple arrived at an accommodation: the pop star got his badge, and the politician was photographed with the most illustrious representative of the young, or young-ish (Elvis was 35). For some reason Elvis & Nixon, the new film about their meeting, fails to include their most telling exchange. Towards the end of the meeting, Elvis hugged Nixon to his chest. This least touchy-feely of presidents somehow managed to extricate himself before taking a step back and looking at the pop star in pancake make-up, brass-buttoned Edwardian jacket, purple velvet tunic with matching trousers, and vast gold belt. You dress kind of strange, dont you? he remarked.

You have your show and I have mine, replied Elvis, in what was in many ways the perfect summary of the clear divide between politician and pop star. Yet it had no influence: over the following 46 years, the divide has grown almost totally obscure, the average pop star growing older, grander and more statesmanlike, the average politician younger, more awestruck and deferential. In the old days, a president or prime minister would have shown no more interest in hobnobbing with a pop star than with a window-cleaner. But as the 1950s gave way to the 60s, pop stars had grown more prominent, and politicians had started dancing to their tune.

The fifth Beatle? Harold Wilson with the Fab Four in 1964. When he became prime minister, he proposed MBEs. Photograph: Bentley Archive/Popperfoto/Getty Images

In Britain, meanwhile, Harold Wilson was quick to recognise the importance of the Beatles. In March 1964, as leader of the opposition, he presented them with their personality of the year awards at a Variety Club lunch. Watching footage of the event, it is clear which way the deference is flowing: while the Beatles are relaxed and joshing, Wilson seems tense and genuflective. Accepting their awards, Paul says: You should have given one to good old Mr Wilson! while John says: Id just like to say thanks for the Purple Heart. Silver! Silver! chips in Ringo, in a jokey stage-whisper. Wilson forces a chuckle. The following year, Wilson engineered the Beatles MBEs.

By the second half of the 60s, pop stars were growing more political, sometimes even going so far as to rhyme solution with revolution. In the spring of 1967, the American poet Allen Ginsberg arranged a meeting between Mick Jagger and the maverick Labour MP Tom Driberg. Britain was on the brink of revolution, Driberg told Jagger, And the Labour party is where a young man should be when it happens. Driberg later admitted his surprise at hearing himself say this, as he hadnt believed a word of it. But one begins to share that revolutionary hope when one is in the company of someone like Mick.

Jagger was clearly flattered, but expressed a fear that, if he agreed to become a Labour MP, I wouldnt want to have to give any of that up to sit behind a desk … I mean, I dont exactly see myself scrutinising the Water Works Bill inch by inch, if you know what I mean. Driberg did his best to reassure him. Dear boy, we wouldnt expect you to attend to the day-to-day ephemera of the house. Not at all. We see you more as a figurehead.

As their meeting went on, Dribergs eyes began drifting downwards, finally coming to rest on Jaggers crotch. Oh my, Mick, WHAT a big basket you have! he gasped. Jagger blushed, and even Ginsberg was a little shocked, but the conversation soon managed to find its way back to politics. Years later, Marianne Faithfull wrote that Driberg could see exactly what Mick wanted, which was a form of respectability.

Whos bad? Reagan gives a special achievement award to Michael Jackson in 1984, for supporting an anti-drink-drive campaign Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

Ah, respectability! It sometimes seems as though no pop star, however offbeat or rebellious, is immune to its allure. In a bizarre replay of Presleys visit, President Ronald Reagan welcomed Michael Jackson to the White House in 1984. Asked to donate his song Beat It to a government anti-drink-driving campaign, the beady Jackson had agreed, but only on condition the president presented him with an award for his work against drink and drugs at a special White House ceremony. Documents recently released under the Freedom of Information Act show that the FBI simultaneously agreed to drop an investigation into claims that Jackson was abusing two Mexican children, so as not to embarrass the president.

The president and Mrs Reagan stood on a special platform on the South Lawn to greet Jackson, who wore a military jacket with sequins, plus floppy gold epaulettes and a gold sash, a single white glove with rhinestones, large dark glasses and full stage make-up. The president then commended Jackson as proof of what a young person can accomplish free of drink or drug abuse. Years later, Jacksons autopsy revealed traces of lidocaine, diazepam, nordiazepam, lorezepam, midazolam, propofol and ephedrine.

By the end of the 1980s, it had become de rigueurfor politicians and pop stars to hobnob, and even to perform together. Neil Kinnock appeared on Top of the Pops, acting the part of Tracey Ullmans My Guy in a video; and in 1992 Mick Hucknall of Simply Red broadcast his commitment to socialism to a Labour rally, via a satellite link-up from the south of France.

Watch the video for Tracey Ullmans My Guy. Labour leader Neil Kinnock arrives two minutes in

The balance had switched: it was now the pop star who conferred respectability on the politician rather than vice versa. The new generation of political leaders were the children of Elvis and the Beatles: they looked up to their older pop idols. When President Bill Clinton and Tony Blair met Chuck Berry, it was, reported Blair, a mutual case of Wow! Never mind about meeting world leaders, this was a REAL superstar. Can you imagine Churchill and Roosevelt undergoing a mutual case of Wow! after shaking hands with George Formby?

Blair had, of course, been lead singer with the group Ugly Rumours, wearing purple loon pants and whooping Lets go, honeys! before launching into a cover version of Honky Tonk Women. Of all the party leaders, he was to prove the keenest, gushiest autograph-hunter, almost as though somewhere in the back of his mind he was still awaiting the call from the producer of Top of the Pops. In his memoirs, Peter Mandelson recalls how, at one dinner party, Tony Blair summoned up his courage to go up to Mick Jagger and tell him: I just want to say how much youve always meant to me.

Moves like Jagger Tony Blair, right, idolised the Stones frontman. Composite: Getty

But, then again, even the most strait-laced Conservative leaders were once pop-pickers: in his biography of Michael Howard, Michael Crick revealed that Howard sported an Elvis quiff in his youth. He wanted to BE Elvis Presley, said his cousin Renee. He used to sit in the bath shrinking his jeans.

On both sides of the Atlantic, politicians would now offer obeisance to pop stars. Sometimes, they even sought a form of absolution from them. In her memoirs, Hillary Clinton writes of taking a phonecall, at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, from Stevie Wonder, who had attended the state dinner for another of his fans, Czech president Vaclav Havel, the night before. Wonder asked her if he could come over and play a song he had composed for her about the power of forgiveness. As he played, I kept moving my chair closer to the piano until I was sitting right next to him. When Stevie finished, tears filled my eyes…

Hillary Clinton gets support from Stevie Wonder in 1998. Photograph: Gina Ferazzi/LA Times via Getty Images

Four years later, Bono dropped in on the White House to have a word with President George W Bush. He brought me a thoughtful gift, an old Irish Bible, Bush recalls in his memoirs. The lessons were all one-way: within minutes, Bono was quoting verses from the New Testament at a reverential Bush. The two men then rode in the presidents limo to a conference at the Inter-American Development Bank. Bono participated in the event and praised our policy … Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I consider him a friend.

Three years later, in preparations leading up to the G8 conference, the chancellor, Gordon Brown, was in discussion with Bono and Sir Bob Geldof. Before long, anyone who had ever topped the charts Chris Martin, Annie Lennox, Madonna, Sting was allowed to deliver a lecture on poverty to politicians whose salary amounted to about half as much as one of their junior hairstylists.

Pop stars are the new grandees. They enjoy the kind of status, wealth and respect once accorded to Lord Curzon, issuing eagerly awaited proclamations on world affairs from the comfort of their stately homes, their careers crowned with gongs for long service.

There has been the occasional hiccup, of course. At the Brit awards in 1998, Danbert Nobacon of the rock group Chumbawamba spotted a bucket of ice cold water on one table and John Prescott on another, and was overcome by the understandable urge to pour the one over the other. Mr Prescott thinks it is utterly contemptible that his wife and other womenfolk should have been subjected to such terrifying behaviour, said a spokesman from his private office, and, for that brief moment, the natural order of things was restored.

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