NEW YORK — A range of acts including Mary J. Blige, Norah Jones and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will pay tribute to Bono on Friday night by playing his band's songs at the 13th annual Person of the Year tribute dinner for MusiCares.
The evening, honoring Bono's musical and humanitarian achievements, will also feature the singer with U2 guitarist The Edge. While Bono was flattered by the attention, he was also somewhat embarrassed.
"I hate doing these kind of things," he admitted. "It's kind of a projectile vomit situation [with people going], 'Oh, you're fantastic. You're great. I'll see you there.' Yeah, I'll be the one with the red face. But it's musicians looking after their own kind that fall into trouble, and if they're going to make $2 million bigging me up, then I guess I've got to be bigged up."
At the Marriott Marquis celebration Blige will perform "One," Jones will play "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will rock "Out of Control." Sheryl Crow will cover "All I Want Is You," No Doubt and Sly & Robbie will play "The Sweetest Thing," and Bono and the Edge will perform Frank Sinatra's "That's Life." Garbage, Elvis Costello, B.B. King and Wynonna Judd, Patti LaBelle, and ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead are also slated to perform.
MusiCares — founded by in 1989 by the Recording Academy to assist musicians suffering from financial, medical and personal emergencies — isn't the only organization tipping its hat to Bono. The singer was named as a nominee for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize along with 150 others, including Pope John Paul, U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and French President Jacques Chirac. Bono refuted the notion that he's on the prize's short list.
"I'm one of the short people on a very long list for the Nobel Peace Prize," he joked. "It's amazing company to be in with those people who do this professionally. I'm not one of them, but just being on that list is great. Not just for me but for the movement of people I represent."
For well over a year, Bono has traveled the globe to gather support for his campaign to fight AIDS in Africa. In May, he and then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill visited Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia to observe the crisis firsthand. In October 2001, Bono was the executive producer for What's Going On, an album that featured himself, Jennifer Lopez, Destiny's Child, 'NSYNC, Lil' Kim, the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and others performing versions of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." Proceeds went to the United Way's September 11th Fund and Artists Against AIDS Worldwide.
"It's really important to get across to people that two-and-a-half million Africans are dying because they can't get drugs that we take for granted in the West," he said. "It's an emergency, and it's an obscenity that it is not on the nightly news the way the war against terror is. People say that civilian casualties [from the war on terror] could be [in the] thousands. Well, it's millions in this other war, so let's get out on the streets for that."
U2 are working on a new album, which they hope to release by the end of the year, and Bono said fans should expect a new level of energy from the band (see "Bono Says U2 Working On 'A Guitar Record'").
"It's full-on, a full-throttle record," Bono said. "It's like punk rock made on Venus. It is a mad sound The Edge is making. People are saying, 'Bono, people are sick of you. You've been around, you've been winning all these awards. You have to go away for a while.' This record is so good that it won't even matter that people are sick of U2. And by the way, I'm sick of Bono — and I am Bono."
— Jon Wiederhorn, with additional reporting by John Norris