56° Good Afternoon
56° Good Afternoon

Global Citizen Festival: Jay Z, No Doubt, more stars aim to impact world poverty with free Central Park concert

Jay Z performs on December 9, 2013.

Jay Z performs on December 9, 2013. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The Global Citizen Festival won't be like the star-studded concerts of years past -- international, awareness-raising events like Live Aid, Live 8 and Live Earth.

Sure, there will still be plenty of stars on Central Park's Great Lawn when the festival takes over Saturday. Jay Z and No Doubt are the concert headliners, with Carrie Underwood, fun., The Roots and Tiesto also on the bill. Multitalented showman Hugh Jackman is set to host, with actresses Katie Holmes, Olivia Wilde and Allison Williams signed on as presenters.

But festival founder Hugh Evans, CEO of The Global Poverty Project, says that in these Internet-driven days, people have more power than ever to change public policy, especially when they band together.

"Raising awareness for the sake of awareness is dead," Evans says. "We can affect the lives of the world's poor now."

The Global Citizen Festival uses an unusual method of getting the concert's message out -- utilizing the show's attention before, during and after the event.

Tickets for the concert aren't for sale. They are awarded to fans only after they have taken action to spread the word about the event's goals to help end extreme poverty in the world by 2030.

Exclusive subscription offer

Newsday covers the stories that matter most to Long Islanders. We dig deep to uncover the facts, hold the powerful in check and keep a watchful eye on Long Island.

Your digital subscription, starting at $1, supports local journalism vital to the community.


"We have one overarching objective -- we want to impact the lives of 50 million people worldwide," Evans says, adding that organizers have three concrete ways in mind of doing that. They are calling on the Norwegian government to increase its investment in the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, a plan that seems to have worked since Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg is expected to attend the event to make an announcement. They are also asking the World Bank to increase its investment in sanitation, as well as asking the Indian government to increase its sanitation efforts. The final piece of their plan is to offer girls around the world more access to education -- an effort supported by Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who was shot by the Taliban for her efforts to get girls educated -- by asking the Canadian government to invest more in international education.

The directness of the group's approach made a fan out of Jay Z, who volunteered last year to work on this year's festival. "Change only takes place when and where there is action," Jay Z says in a statement announcing his involvement. "I'm joining the 2014 Global Citizen Festival because I believe through actions, whether it be by raising awareness, getting involved, or educating ourselves, the goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 is possible."

Evans -- who began his crusade against poverty as a teenager, after he visited Smokey Mountain in the Philippines, a garbage dump where people live -- believes the goal is achievable as well.

"The last 15 years have been the most successful anti-poverty push in human history," Evans says. "More people have been lifted out of poverty in the last 15 years than in the 200 years prior to that."

However, there is plenty more work to be done. Evans says he believes that by getting more people involved, especially passionate music fans, the mix of encouragement and pressure from those involved in the Global Citizen movement could create the political environment needed to finish the job.

And his movement is clearly growing. This year, the Global Citizen Festival will be broadcast live for the first time on MSNBC, with an hourlong prime-time special of highlights on NBC airing the same night.

Jackman, besides hosting the event, has been supporting the festival where he can. During his recent appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Jackman sported a new Global Citizen Festival T-shirt -- one sold exclusively at the event's new pop-up store at the Paramount Hotel in Manhattan, part of the group's new "Impack," designed to help people engaged in the cause year-round.

"I am thrilled to be a part of this year's Global Citizen Festival to further the movement to end extreme poverty," Jackman says in a statement. "This is a cause that has been close to my heart for many years, and I look forward to joining 60,000 Global Citizens in Central Park as we change the world for the better."

Evans says he is not naive in his belief that this kind of seismic change is possible.

"It's not a pie-in-the-sky fanciful notion that I'm just excited about for and giggles," Evans says. "It's something I have focused my life on . . . I believe it can happen. It won't happen easily, but it could happen."

WHAT Global Citizen Festival

WHEN | WHERE 3 p.m. Saturday, Central Park Great Lawn

INFO Free tickets through lottery at Concert will air live on MSNBC starting at 3 p.m. NBC will air a one-hour special at 9 p.m.



They go beyond the music

For Global Citizen Festival organizers, the music is only part of the show. That's why they picked artists who aren't only great musicians, but who also can talk about the importance of activism. Here's a look at this year's performers:


BEST KNOWN FOR Building "The Blueprint" for hip-hop moguls. Fresh off his "On the Run" tour with wife Beyoncé and establishing his "Made in America" festival in Los Angeles, Jay will refocus on his business projects, which include helping renovate Nassau Coliseum, and maybe new music.

BIGGEST HIT "Empire State of Mind" (No. 1 for 5 weeks, 2009)

PHILANTHROPIC WORK He heads the Shawn Carter Foundation, which helps economically disadvantaged students further their education. He also headed the "Water for Life" project with the United Nations, which sought to raise awareness that 1.1 billion people lack regular access to clean drinking water and 2.6 billion people live without proper sanitation, one of the key issues of this year's Global Citizen Festival.



BEST KNOWN FOR Their mix of pop, rock and reggae that spawned a wide range of hits from ballads like "Don't Speak" to the ska-influenced "Settle Down." Led by Gwen Stefani, the California band returned from an eight-year hiatus in 2012.

BIGGEST HIT "Don't Speak" (No. 1 pop airplay for 16 weeks, 1997)

PHILANTHROPIC WORK The band has focused its efforts on aiding victims of natural disasters, most recently teaming with Save the Children to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.



BEST KNOWN FOR Being one of country music's biggest superstars and selling more albums than any other "American Idol" winner.

BIGGEST HIT "Inside Your Heaven" (No. 1 for 1 week, 2007)

PHILANTHROPIC WORK She created the Checotah Animal, Town, and School Foundation to support growth in her hometown of Checotah, Okla.



BEST KNOWN FOR Their breakthrough album, "Some Nights," which landed them the best new artist Grammy and song of the year Grammy in 2013 for "We Are Young."

BIGGEST HIT "We Are Young" (No. 1 for 6 weeks, 2012)

PHILANTHROPIC WORK They founded The Ally Coalition to "support LGBTQ causes and fight against discrimination through education, awareness and advocacy."



BEST KNOWN FOR Being hip-hop's biggest band as well as the house band for "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

BIGGEST HIT "What They Do" (No. 34, 1997)

PHILANTHROPIC WORK The group supports numerous causes, including the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, headed by the group's Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter, which supports educational and recreational services for economically disadvantaged girls and women.



BEST KNOWN FOR Helping build the current EDM explosion through his work as a DJ and producer.

BIGGEST HIT "Wasted" (No. 49, 2014)

PHILANTHROPIC WORK Tiesto is the worldwide ambassador for the Dance4Life Foundation, which aims to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS among high-school students.

More Entertainment