A Gathering of Great Friends and Supporters; London, Hyde Park, June 27, 2008
LONDON (May 6, 2008) PRNewswire
Many of the world’s most powerful and instantly recognisable figures and a concert audience of 46,664 will pay their tributes to one of the world’s most loved leaders, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and icon of freedom, Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela, as he turns 90 later this year.
Mr. Mandela will arrive in London in June to take part in a series of events to mark his birthday: a very rare occasion since he is now finally “retired from retirement.”
Royalty and politicians from both sides of the Atlantic, leading names from business, sport, film and entertainment — and some of the most successful musicians of the past twenty years — make up the birthday list for three days of celebrations, culminating in a three-hour evening concert in London’s Hyde Park on Friday, June 27, The 46664 Concert Honouring Nelson Mandela at 90.
President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Will Smith, Ms. Oprah Winfrey, Robert de Niro and Forest Whitaker are amongst those who will attend some of the events. Lewis Hamilton, British Formula 1 driver for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team, will attend his very first 46664 event.
Artists specially invited to perform for Mr. Mandela at the Friday night 90th birthday concert will include Queen + Paul Rodgers, Annie Lennox, Simple Minds, Leona Lewis, the Sugababes, Dame Shirley Bassey, Razorlight, Andrea and Sharon Corr, Eddy Grant, and Jamelia, along with international 46664 Ambassadors Italy’s Zucchero and Spain’s Amaral.
Joining them to celebrate the life of the world’s most respected statesman will be South African and African artists including Johnny Clegg, Sipho Mabuse, multi-South African Music Awards winner Loyiso, Kurt Darren, the Soweto Gospel Choir, Aids orphan choir The Children of Agape — the subject of the award winning film feature ‘We Are Together’, the legendary Papa Wemba and Sudanese ‘war child’ rapper Emmanuel Jal.
The concert will feature numerous unexpected appearances, with several major artists keeping silent about their involvement in order to take both Mr. Mandela and the audience by surprise. Among the specially chosen artists are many whom Nelson Mandela is recognising for having voiced their support for him over the past 20 years, dating back to London’s historic Free Mandela concert of June 1988, which called for Mr. Mandela’s release from incarceration on Robben Island and which Mr. Mandela has said gave him and his fellow prisoners great inspiration. Simple Minds were instrumental in making the 1988 event happen. Annie Lennox appeared with The Eurythmics and has since become of one of the most active ambassadors for Mr. Mandela’s 46664 AIDS organisation.
Lennox, along with Dave Stewart and Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor played a key part in the foundation of 46664 in October 2003. Since then, Queen and Paul Rodgers have gone on to write songs specially for the organisation, including the track “Say It’s Not True” from their forthcoming album which the band donated to 46664 for World AIDS Day 2007. With the Corrs, Sharon and Andrea Corr appeared at the inaugural Cape Town concert and together and separately have since participated in further concerts for Mr. Mandela’s 46664 charitable organisation. Zucchero has been another stalwart supporter, appearing in the first concert as well as two previous concerts. Rounding out the twenty years since the Free Mandela event in 1988, the concert will also feature top artists of today including worldwide No.1 artist Leona Lewis and Britain’s most successful female group, the Sugababes.
Fundraising events as part of the celebrations will benefit the charitable organisations established by Mr. Mandela: the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, which through their work have sought to bring about change and make a difference to lives in South Africa, Africa and elsewhere over the past 14 years. The concert proceeds will go to the 46664 campaign which raises awareness about the impact of AIDS, especially in Africa, and promotes effective HIV prevention measures throughout the world.
Mr. Mandela said at the announcement of the concert: “You all know that I am supposed to be retired but my friends and the charitable organisations that bear my name want to use my 90th birthday year to raise funds to continue our work and so of course I want to help them. So, we have a bargain — I am going to London and they will host a concert in Hyde Park, which will raise awareness of our continuing work and much needed funds.”
As his final public engagement on his visit to the UK, Mr. Mandela’s appearance at the concert is sure to be emotional. In stepping down from his campaign work he will use the concert to deliver his message presented in the current 46664 campaign “It’s in our hands”, that he is handing over the 46664 mantle to each of us to carry forward on his behalf. The concert has been made possible through the generosity of the private sector to honour Mr. Mandela’s 90th birthday.
Many artists have dedicated songs to Nelson Mandela. One of the most popular was from The Specials with the song “Nelson Mandela” in 1984. Stevie Wonder dedicated his 1985 Oscar for “I Just Called to Say I Love You” to Mandela, which led to his music being banned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation. Simple Minds’ Mandela Day was written as a tribute to Mandela for the original 70th Birthday concert. For the same concert Santana recorded the instrumental “Mandela.” Queen’s Roger Taylor and Brian May have written three song for Mandela, 46664 – “The Call,” “Invincible Hope” and the newly recorded “Say It’s Not True.” The
1988 Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert on June 11, 1988 was a focal point of the growing anti-apartheid movement in the UK. It followed the launching of Artists United Against Apartheid which organised the earlier Freedom Beat concert on Clapham Common in 1986. The Wembley Stadium event followed. More than 600 million television viewers from 60 countries watched the broadcast of the concert except in South Africa where it was not broadcast.
Nelson Mandela was finally freed from prison on February, 11 1990 having been held mostly on Robben Island for 27 years.
Mr. Mandela made HIV/AIDS the target of his ‘new fight’ in 2002 with branding provided by David Clark, and the 46664 campaign was launched with a concert in Cape Town on November 29, 2003 under the musical direction of Dave Stewart, Annie Lennox and Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor, with support from artists such as Bono, The Edge and Beyonce. 46664 takes its name from Mr. Mandela’s Robben Island prison number. He was prisoner number 466, incarcerated in 1964.
At the time of Mr. Mandela’s release in 1990 South Africa recorded 120,000 people living with HIV. Today the number of South Africans living with HIV/AIDS exceeds 5.5 million. Inspired by the vision and leadership of Nelson Mandela, 46664 is an African response to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic that invites the whole world to take the fight in hand.
A campaign vehicle of the Nelson Mandela charitable organisations, 46664 raises funds to support the ongoing 46664 campaign and the HIV/AIDS projects it directly supports throughout sub-Saharan Africa. 46664’s project funds develop and support practical programmes for the prevention, testing, and care and support for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. 46664 recently unveiled its new campaign “It’s in our hands”, which will build on its past achievements and expand its outreach activities in South Africa to communities and schools to engage the youth who are at most at risk.