NEW YORK (AP)—K’naan kicked off a free concert in Central Park on Saturday evening that also included performances by Black Keys and John Legend to call attention to poverty worldwide.
Dubbed the Global Citizen Festival, the concert lineup featured Neil Young, Band of Horses and Foo Fighters as well. Video of the event 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 last week and organizers used an innovative approach to ticket distribution so that many concert-goers were 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.
“Our social media campaign has been off the charts,” said Hugh Evans, CEO and co-founder of the Global Poverty Project. Organizers said more than 71,000 people had signed up online, resulting in more than 3.5 million page views. On average, they spent just over six minutes consuming content or sharing information. Nearly 200,000 pieces of information were shared on Facebook, and just a bit more than that on Twitter. About 170,000 people signed petitions via the site, and there were 98,000 videos viewed to completion.