Britney Spears, 50 Cent, Beyoncé, Pink, Shakira, Bono and many others will take part in a benefit concert for AIDS awareness on November 29 in Cape Town, South Africa.
The extravaganza will be broadcast live over the Internet, and a 90-minute special will air on MTV on World AIDS Day, December 1. A simultaneous feed will be available at no cost to all TV and radio stations around the globe
Proceeds from the concert will go to the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The event is expected to draw 40,000 people and will be recorded for CD and DVD release. In addition, the CD will feature around 15 new studio recordings, a spokesperson for the project said.
Mandela announced the concert Tuesday morning (October 21) at a press conference in London. Attendees included Ms. Dynamite and members of Queen and the Eurythmics, artists whose bands will also perform at the concert. Other acts that will play include David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Sting, the Corrs, Moloko, Paul Oakenfold with Shifty Shellshock and TC, Anastacia and African musicians such as Baaba Maal, Johnny Clegg and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. More artists will be announced soon.
The event will be called 46664, a very personal number for Mandela. "46664 was my prison number for over 18 years," he said. "I was imprisoned on Robben Island [and] known as just another number. Millions of people today infected with AIDS are just that — a number. They, too, are serving a prison sentence for life. No longer is AIDS just a disease, it is a human-rights issue."
The first song for the 46664 CD is "46664 (Long Walk to Freedom)," which was written by Bono, Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and the late Joe Strummer of the Clash. The track was performed by Bono, Youssou N'Dour, Abdel and Dave Stewart, and can be heard starting Tuesday by calling (866) 614-6664. For every minute spent on the line, callers will have one dollar charged to their credit card.
"I sort of had the idea, 'Why don't we use that prison number as a telephone number,' because if you use it as a telephone number globally, it's so easy for people to donate," Stewart said.
Additional tracks from the album, including one by Paul McCartney and one by Queen, will be previewed in the coming weeks.
For Queen guitarist Brian May, whose frontman Freddie Mercury died of AIDS in 1991, contributing to the cause offered a great opportunity to resurface with his former bandmates. "AIDS has become part of our lives, obviously ever since we lost Freddie, but it continues," he said. "And of course, as soon as Mandela speaks, the world listens. So, we had to be involved in this. Once we got down to South Africa and actually saw the magnitude of this tragedy, we became more and more committed. And the passion came from just knowing something had to be done."