This past Saturday, Sept. 28th, dozens of stars banded together all in effort to raise awareness and funds to strike out extreme poverty around the world for the second annual Global Citizen Festival.
Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, John Mayer and rockers Kings of Leon headlined the event with special performances during the free five-hour concert in New York City’s Central Park. For those who weren’t part of the 60,000 in attendance, the entire concert was streamed online and in public locations around the nation.
This year’s event focused on raising awareness of topics including education, women’s equality, global health and global partnerships.
The highlight for many was Wonder’s set filled with his career-spanning hits like “Higher Ground,” “Sign, Sealed, Delivered” and “Superstition.” However, it was Wonder’s focus on the topic of gun control that was most memorable of the night.
Wonder took a moment to remember those who have been victims of gun violence saying to the crowd “we must do something about the gun laws in our country.”
He then started playing the intro to John Lennon’s iconic song “Imagine” adding that “Every time I sing this song, it brings such emotions to my heart. Most of all, to know that we lost this man because of a gun, because we don’t have laws dealing strongly enough with mental illness, we lost a great man. We’ve lost many great men and women and children. We have to do something about it, there has to be more control,” he said according to Buzzfeed.
Keys wowed the crowed with a empowering set that included hits “Girl On Fire,” “Empire State Of Mind Pt. II,” “New Day” and a rousing rendition of “Fallin.” Mayer performed his socially-conscious anthem “Waiting On The World To Change” with a tribute to Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield’s “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” in the middle of the song, according to Rolling Stone.
Other performers at the event included Janelle Monae, Elvis Costello and Maxwell. Bono, Katie Holmes, Olivia Wilde, Gerard Butler, Will.i.am, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon were also among the stars who spoke on stage on behalf of the event.
Global Citizen is a non-profit organization backed by the Global Poverty Project. The group’s goal is “to amplify and unite a generation’s call for justice,” according to a statement on its website. “It’s a place for you to learn, and act, to bring an end to extreme poverty.”
Check out highlights from the 2013 Global Citizen Festival in our photo gallery of the event.