NEW YORK – K’naan kicked off a free concert in Central Park on Saturday evening that also included performances by the Black Keys and John Legend to call attention to poverty worldwide.
Dubbed the Global Citizen Festival, the concert also featured Neil Young, Band of Horses and Foo Fighters. Video was streamed worldwide as about 60,000 music fans poured into the park.
The concert included a surprise appearance from Legend, who played Imagine at a piano on the Great Lawn stage, a short walk from where the song’s author, John Lennon, once lived.
The concert was scheduled around the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week, and organizers used an innovative approach to ticket distribution so that many concertgoers would be forced to learn about an array of global problems, such as polio, malaria, child mortality and polluted drinking water in order to get a ticket.
Anyone wanting free tickets had to register at globalcitizen.org, a website that then required users to watch videos or read information about poverty-related issues. Each time material was consumed, users could earn points toward a drawing for tickets. Points could also be accumulated by sharing information on Twitter or Facebook.
Our social media campaign has been off the charts, said Hugh Evans, CEO and co-founder of the Global Poverty Project. The approach demonstrates a new model for harnessing digital tools that may be repeated for other big events with political or social messages.