What Is The G8, Anyway?

Live 8 concerts will be taking place in each of the eight wealthiest nations in the world.

If the terms "Live 8," "Live Aid" and "G8" have you feeling confused, don't fret. Here's a quick rundown of what you need to know about the biggest concert-with-a-conscience for many years, and the world leaders it hopes to influence.

Live 8 is a sequel of sorts to Live Aid — two marathon all-star concerts, held nearly simultaneously in London and Philadelphia, on July 13, 1985. Described as "the day rock and roll changed the world," Live Aid raised more than $200 million for famine relief in Africa (see "Live Aid: A Look Back At A Concert That Actually Changed The World").

Instead of raising money, Live 8 aims to raise awareness and support for the issues facing Africa as leaders of the world's wealthiest nations prepare to meet for their annual summit on July 6. At that meeting, leaders from the Group of Eight (or G8: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) will discuss the world's most pressing economic, social and political issues, and Live 8 organizers hope to make African poverty the top priority by educating people around the world, who will then put pressure on their leaders to fix the problem (see "Bush, Blair Lead Up To G8 — And Live 8 — With Commitment To Aid Africa").

The G8 summits differs from other political meetings because of their informality; there are no formal rules of procedure, and the leaders usually meet in a relaxed setting away from the media. Because of that, critics say the G8 hasn't gotten as much exposure to the public as is needed to instigate proper change. Enter Live 8 (see "The Road To Live 8: Why Are We Here?").

Live 8 artists stress debt relief, critics of the plan sound off and the G8 summit is explained in "Live 8: A Concert To End Poverty" on Overdrive.

"Most people don't know the G8 is happening, but this year we're going to make sure they do because this year's meeting is too important for us not to be fully aware of the things these eight guys are going to talk about," said Jamie Drummond, executive director of DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa), a nonprofit group founded by U2's Bono in 2002. "When these eight men sit in that room and look each other in the eye, they must decide, 'What kind of man am I? Am I going to listen to the people?' It doesn't have to get fancy. They just need to decide to do it."

This year's four-day summit is being hosted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Perthshire, Scotland (see "U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair Answers To Destiny's Child"). Already on the table is a three-part proposal to reduce poverty in Africa: doubling aid, 100 percent cancellation of the debt many African countries acquired during the Cold War, and trade reform that will allow developing countries equal access into the international market.

Every country that hosts a G8 Summit wants to be able to announce something new that will demonstrate its leadership and how that leadership has allowed these wealthy countries to make an important contribution to the world's problems, said Salih Booker of Action Africa, a nonprofit organization that responds to the challenges faced by sub-Saharan Africa. But that doesn't mean they couldn't use a push.

"These politicians are working for you, but they cannot do anything until the people ask for it," Booker said. "Live Aid had the catalytic effect of drawing public attention and making these issues a popular cause. It got governments to do something they had been refusing to do because they felt like [the people didn't care]. But the actions of these artists helped to change all that."

Artists lining up for Live 8 include U2, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Destiny's Child, Elton John, the Killers, Pink Floyd, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z and many more. They'll be playing on stages in all of the G8-represented countries, and two smaller shows will also take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, while another in England will feature African musicians (see "Good Charlotte, Bjork In For Live 8 Tokyo; Moscow Concert Added").

They'll be playing on stages in all of the G8-represented countries, and a smaller show will also take place in Johannesburg, South Africa (see "Good Charlotte, Bjork In For Live 8 Tokyo; Moscow Concert Added").

Get involved: Learn about the poverty crisis in Africa, the proposed solutions, and how you can help. Plus find all of our coverage of the international Live 8 concerts and more at our thinkMTV Live 8 hub.