Several notable artists took the stage at Central Park’s Great lawn on Saturday, Sept. 26 to perform for a crowd of more than 60,000 activists.
Pearl Jam, Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay were among the high-profile musicians to grace New York’s iconic, outdoor venue for the 2015 Global Citizen Festival.
Beginning in 2012, The Global Citizen Festival has become an annual concert event in New York City.
The festival was created in support of the Global Poverty Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to end extreme poverty by 2030.
Earlier in the year, Coldplay’s frontman Chris Martin signed on as the festival’s curator for next 15 years.
While tickets for the event are free, concert goers can earn tickets through advocacy or what the organization labels “Call for Action”. The actions range from people tweeting about a featured cause such as women’s education or calling government officials about working towards the end of polio around the globe.
Although centered on promoting U.N. initiatives and goals to fighting inequality, protecting the world and ending extreme poverty, the festival can be overlooked for its quality music performances.
Amidst videos portraying global issues and speeches by celebrities, entrepreneurs and political figures from around the globe, this year’s festival was also host to arguably the best live music collaborations of 2015. Memorable collabs included:
Chris Martin & Arianna Grande:
When deciding which artist to bring out for a duet performance, Martin told the crowd that he turned to his kids about which pop-star to choose!
In an unexpected twist, Martin brought out an artist outside the lineup, pop-star Ariana Grande. Together, the singers performed Grande’s “Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart”, a song written by One Direction’s Harry Styles.
Common & Sting:
Just a week before the festival, rapper Common was added to the star-studded lineup. During his performance, Common upped the surprise by bringing out Sting for a duet of “Every Breath You Take.”
One of the highlights of last year’s festival was when Sting came out for a surprise performance of “Message in a Bottle” with headliners, No Doubt. Who knows? This might be an annual thing for him, and I completely support that.
Beyoncé & Ed Sheeran:
As far as cross-genre collabs go, Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran’s duet reigns supreme!
Queen Béy brought out British crooner, Ed Sheeran for an acoustic rendition of her song, “Drunk in Love.” When asked about the performance during an interview with “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show,” Sheeran told the show how he felt that he offended the singer by keeping his eyes shut as she looked at him. “Jay Z was standing on the side of the stage, and the song is quite open.
I just didn’t want to make eye contact with someone’s wife when I’m singing lyrics like that,” Sheeran joked on the show.
Eddie Vedder & Béyonce:
The most epic duet of the night, Pearl Jam’s frontman, Eddie Vedder and Béyonce teamed up for an incredible rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”.
Vedder, himself, acknowledged the awesome moment before the singer came on stage and said, “it’s not every day that you get to sing with a queen.”
While the festival’s main purpose still stands for promoting activism, its music element is definitely a shining moment.
So, while the Grammys and the VMAs continue to be hubs for iconic collaborations, the Global Citizen Festival has the potential to be a game changer and has until 2030 to prove it.
Natalie Rebisz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.