Black Eyed Peas Call Benefit Concert ‘Our Gift To South Africa’

Fergie focuses on movie role, solo CD; Will.I.Am produces for Justin Timberlake, Macy Gray.

A man of his word he is.

Two years after Will.I.Am promised a South African crowd that the Black Eyed Peas would return for a free show, the group has scheduled the concert for May 28.

The Peas will perform for 60,000 people at Johannesburg Stadium as the first philanthropic endeavor for their Peapod Foundation.

“We fly all over the world doing concerts everywhere, and you see a big golf course and it’s all beautiful and in the next block you see cardboard houses, and it’s just inhumane if you don’t do something about that or feel obligated to help in some way,” singer Fergie explained backstage at a recent tour stop. “Some of these kids have never even seen a show in their life, and they’re gonna get to go see a concert … so it’s a beautiful thing.”

The show, which will raise funds and awareness for the Shanduka Foundation and their Adopt-a-School Program, is being billed as Black Eyed Peas and friends. The group said Nelson Mandela will attend and possibly Oprah Winfrey too.

“We’re playing with local South African artists, and there was talks of James Brown going, although I don’t know if that’s gonna happen,” Will said. “What we’re doing there is to bring good music and to have a good time with these people. That’s our gift to South Africa. The school that Nelson Mandela is a part of, it’s the grand opening of that university, so we’re there to celebrate that as well.”

The Peas also plan to document their journey for a potential documentary.

“We’re gonna ask kids what their dreams are and hopefully put together a nice little presentation and air it on television so people in America can see it,” Will said. “And other artists can go out there and pick other Third World countries to do the same efforts for.”

The Peas will make the trek at the end of May, after finishing as headliners of the Honda Civic Tour (see “Black Eyed Peas Unveil Dates For Headlining Trek, Tap Pussycat Dolls As Openers” ).

Fergie will also be taking time next month to promote her first major movie role, in “Poseidon,” which opens May 12 (see “Fergie’s First Big Movie Is A Disaster — And She Loves It” ). Along with acting in the flick, she contributed two Will-produced songs to the soundtrack, the Latin-flavored “Bailamos” and the epic “Won’t Let You Fall.”

“It reminds me of, like, a Mariah-Carey-in-the-’90s type of song,” Fergie said of the latter. “It’s [fitting for] the character in the movie. She’s got this big, huge, red drag-queen dress on, and it’s very over-the-top and beautiful. It’s powerful, just as powerful as people flipping over in a boat and dying, and that’s what the song called for, so that’s what it is.”

Along with working with Fergie, on the soundtrack and songs for her debut album, Will has been in the studio with Macy Gray (see “Will.I.Am Wants To Pull A Rick Rubin With Sergio Mendes, Macy Gray” ) and Justin Timberlake.

“I produced four songs on the record with [Timberlake] and he produced a whole bunch of songs by himself and Timbaland did some stuff,” Will said. “He can go in a studio by himself, no producer, a drum kit, a keyboard, a guitar and make songs. It’s very rare people can do that these days.”

Will singled out a song he called “Damn Girl” as a standout, although he said Timberlake’s whole record is “beautiful, soulful and futuristic.”

The Peas, with the Pussycat Dolls opening, play Verona, New York, on Thursday.

“Pussycat Dolls really come wit’ it,” Will said. “I think they rock routines better than any other group I ever seen do routines, ’cause I personally hate routines. … But they really put the personality beyond the routine.”