In what has become a fall tradition in New York, the fifth annual Global Citizen Festival was held over the weekend, featuring performances from the top artists in music, including headliner Rihanna, as well as messages from celebrities designed to raise awareness about extreme poverty in the world.
More than 60,000 people packed New York’s Central Park for a day of music, activism and awareness, as tickets are given people who perform such acts as tweeting, emailing politicians and signing petitions related to a number of causes.
Rihanna, the last act to perform, made the wait all worthwhile for fans with a lengthy set that featured both her current and past hits, including “Stay,” “Pour It Up,” “Where Have You Been” and “Diamonds.” She performed several melodies of her top features, including snippets of T.I.’s “Live Your Life” and Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Run This Town.”
R&B superstar Usher also performed during the festival. Wearing a sweatshirt that had the words “Silence is Consent,” apparently in reference to outcry over recent police shootings, Usher launched into his hit “Champions,” alongside Panamanian singer Ruben Blades and the Kenyan Boys Choir, who later performed a rendition of “Kill Em With Kindness” that had the crowd on its feet.
West coast rapper Kendrick Lamar delivered an electric, politically charged performance that took the crowd through many of the songs from his hit To Pimp a Butterfly album and from his 2012 breakout album Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, including “Backstage Freestyle,” “Don’t Kill My Vibe,” “untitled 02,” and Swimming Pools (Drank), which he performed for all his “day ones (fans).”
During his performance, Lamar showed background images of famous black Americans, including Muhammad Ali and James Brown. He also featured black children on screen during his performance of “King Kunta.”
Reggaeton artist, Yandel, half of the Puerto Rican duo Wisin y Yandel, performed a medley of his hit songs, including “Encantadora” “Rakata” and “Mirala Bien.” He was later joined on stage by Latina singer Becky G for song “Somos Unos (We Are One).”
A number of celebrities and political figures made appearances, including actress Salma Hayek and First Lady Michelle Obama, who made an video appearance. Those making appearances made appeals to those in attendance and the millions watching on television and through live streaming to bring change in such areas as gender equality, peace and justice in governmental institutions, and clean water and sanitation.