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Jay Z, Beyoncé unite with world leaders at Global Citizen Festival

Jay Z performs onstage at the 2014 Global

Jay Z performs onstage at the 2014 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park on Sept. 27, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Theo Wargo

Music has never been quite this powerful before.

Yes, the star power was high at the third annual Global Citizen Festival on Central Park's Great Lawn Saturday with headliners Jay Z, who brought along Beyonce, and No Doubt, who played with Sting. But even they were eclipsed by some of the world's most powerful leaders, including India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Queen Silvia of Sweden.

Unlike previous superstar concerts such as Live Aid and Live Earth, Global Citizen Festival organizers aren't looking for money from music fans. They're looking for the support of the estimated 60,000 in Central Park and millions more watching the concert live on MSNBC or listening on I Heart Radio stations in persuading politicians and corporations to take specific steps that they believe will help end extreme poverty in the world by 2030.

The World Bank pledged $15 billion to improve sanitation and access to clean water around the world. The Norwegian government pledged $600 million toward education in the world's poorest countries. All totaled, the Global Citizen Festival hopes for contributions to improve the lives of 50 million people worldwide, using music as the inspiration.

That's a tall order, but the eclectic group of artists was up to the challenge.

Jay Z was in grand spirits from the opening "Empire State of Mind," though things got crazy when his wife Beyoncé joined him for a wild version of "Holy Grail" -- complete with dirty dancing and an operatic flourish -- and a touching version of "Young Forever," with the Great Lawn lit up by cellphones.

No Doubt dominated the stage with a powerful set, pulling songs from throughout their career and blending rock, reggae, new wave and ska, including their breakthrough hit "Just a Girl." For their finale, Sting joined the band for a raucous version of The Police hit "Message in a Bottle."

Earlier, Alicia Keys offered the day's first surprise, performing her new single "We Are Here" with Israeli and Palestinian musicians. "The opposite of poverty is justice," she said. "Let's stop waiting for others to change our world and do it ourselves."

Carrie Underwood pulled out some surprises of her own during her 50-minute set, including a tender cover of R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" and strong versions of her hits "Wasted" and "Jesus Take the Wheel."

"This is very special," Underwood said. "I'm definitely going to file this under the 'coolest things I've ever done' category."

 

SET LISTS

CARRIE UNDERWOOD: Good Girl / Two Black Cadillacs / Wasted / Jesus Take the Wheel / Undo It / See You Again / Everybody Hurts / Last Name / Blown Away / Before He Cheats

NO DOUBT: Hella Good / Sunday Morning / Underneath It All / Just a Girl / Simple Kind of Life / It’s My Life / Push & Shove / Hey Baby / Don’t Speak / Spiderwebs / Message in a Bottle (w/Sting)

JAY Z: Empire State of Mind / Izzo / Big Pimpin’ / I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me) / Tom Ford / 99 Problems / U Don’t Know / On to the Next One / In Paris / Clique / ---withmeyouknowIgotit / PSA / Holy Grail (w/Beyonce) / Young Forever (w/Beyonce)

 

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