South O’ the Highway

Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Chris Martin and More Sing to End Extreme Poverty

Stars align for the Global Citizen Festival, honoring the late Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday.

With singers Beyoncé and Jay-Z taking the stage, the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, curated by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, has never shone brighter with East End star-power. On December 2, these icons came to FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa to honor the late Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, which he would’ve celebrated on July 18, 2018, by taking action against extreme poverty.

The East Hampton couple headlined the event in their first South African performance. They performed a 90-minute set reminiscent of their most recent tour, On the Run II, featuring songs such as “03 Bonne and Clyde,” “Crazy in Love” and “Drunk in Love.” Billboard reports that Beyoncé brought a local choir to her performance of “Halo,” adding a sense of African poignancy to the song. She also shared a duet with Ed Sheeran in the first live performance of his new song, “Perfect.”

 

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This truly was a night of firsts, as Coldplay, under the name Los Unidades, unveiled a new single, “Timbuktu,” for the first time in a fitting opening act for the Carters. The song is a collaboration between Martin, Cassper Nyovest and special guest Stormzy. Martin, was interwoven throughout the show, opening the festival with the Soweto Gospel Choir (performing at Stony Brook’s Staller Center for the Arts on December 8) and later singing with Pharrel Williams.

The festival was co-hosted by Oprah Winfrey and The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, who grew up near the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa during the era of apartheid. Usher and South African DJ/producer Black Coffee performed a mash-up of “We Dance Again” and “Without You,” incorporating the South African dance, Gwara Gwara.

Sadly, the full majesty of the Carters performance isn’t available online as the livestream of their nearly two-hour set ended 25 minutes in. The festival’s organizers anticipated the outrage that would follow when they tweeted, “Dear Viewers, please note that SABC1 will be showing 25 minutes of the Carters’ part of the @GlblCtzn show. Beyoncé & Jay-Z’s full show remains exclusive to those who earned their tickets. i.e. Those at the stadium.”


While this may seem harsh, especially for devoted members of the Beyhive, it’s important to note that this event is not only a celebration of Mandela, but a campaign for change. The goal of Global Citizen is to end extreme poverty by the year 2030 and therefore 70% of the tickets were given away to those who took action on the Global Citizen platform: sending emails to world leaders, signing petitions and so forth.

With such a huge line-up of stars performing, this year’s festival broke several records, with 5.6 million advocacy actions performed by Global Citizens, leading to $7 billion worth of commitments by companies and governments to end poverty in their countries.

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