Singing for a change

Singing+for+a+change

Alexis Guerra

[media-credit id=2206 align=”alignright” width=”224″][/media-credit]“Ladies and gentlemen, tonight is the night we will make the world great,” lead singer of Green Day Billie Joe Armstrong passionately cried to the crowd.

Every September, the Great Lawn in Central Park houses the Global Citizen Festival. This festival brings musicians and world leaders together who campaign for solutions towards world issues. These issues include gender inequality, inaccessibility to clean water and lack of education in war-torn countries.

From 63rd to 72nd street, a line of 60,000 attendees eagerly awaited the many stars about to perform. Along with artists such as The Chainsmokers and Stevie Wonder, everyone was gathered together to discuss the problems that affect the world as a global community. “For freedom, for justice, for all” was the fitting theme of this year’s festival.

Before the entertainment began, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, gave a speech about climate change and making a difference, in light of the recent natural disasters.

“Think globally, act locally,” de Blasio said, calling out to the crowd.

Alessia Cara, the first performer, left a lasting remark with the hit song “Here” while dedicating “Scars to your Beautiful” to all the women watching.

Cara thanked the attendees for being a great audience as talk show host Wendy Williams introduced Big Sean to the stage. Big Sean had the crowd bumping to “Clique” and “Bounce Back.” Before leaving the stage, He asked the audience to be silent, and “send our energy” to the Hurricane victims in the Caribbean.

The Killers took the crowd back to 2004 performing nostalgic throwbacks. As the familiar opening notes of “Mr. Brightside” played, the crowd’s excitement was palpable. They also performed “All the Things that I’ve Done” and “When We Were Young.”

The Lumineers eased the crowd’s excitement with the songs “Ophelia” and “Angela.” They also covered Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” in honor of the victims of Hurricane Irma and Maria.

Andra Day continued with the somber theme that The Lumineers had. Day had the crowd silent during her emotional rendition of Billie Holiday’s classic tune, “Strange Fruit.” The artist released this cover as part of the Equal Justice Initiative, “Lynching in America.”

Following Day came The Chainsmokers. Performances of “Closer” and “Paris” had the audience filled with energy as everyone joined in singing the familiar choruses from both songs.

During a short break from the concert, Delaware Senator Chris Coons went on stage and promoted the audience to reach out to their government leaders if they’d want to see a change in our country. He showed a short film starring senators from different states and political backgrounds, urging the same message: vote and use our voices for the common good.

The long-anticipated band Green Day came out to perform just as the sun was setting. The group performed classics such as “Holiday” and “Know Your Enemy.”

Hugh Jackman made an appearance and spoke to the audience about equal education for all. His second time on stage redressing the issue led to a crowd response of chanting for an encore by Green Day. Answering the crowd’s prayers, Armstrong appeared once again. Keeping with the classics, “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” were the last songs of the set to be played.

Whoopi Goldberg made a guest appearance and spoke about the fight against HIV/AIDS. Goldberg had the crowd repeat a powerful message for HIV/AIDS Survivors.

[media-credit id=2206 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]”You’re okay with me, and I stand with you,” Goldberg and the crowd chanted together.

The next performer was Stevie Wonder, who took the crowd home with hits “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” “Isn’t She Lovely” and “We are the World.” Stevie Wonder’s cover of “Imagine” quieted the cheers of the crowded as everyone solemnly sang along.

After the cover, Stevie Wonder dropped to one knee saying, “Tonight, I’m taking a knee for America.” Then he dropped to two knees exclaiming, “Not just one knee, but both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, and the leaders of our world. Our global brothers and sisters, I didn’t come here to preach, but I’m telling you, our spirits must be in the right place all the time.”

To close the show, Wonder invited Pharrell Williams onto the stage. As the audience made their way home Pharrell closed the festival with his popular song “Happy,” leaving the crowd singing along.

The performers enthusiasm for their music was matched by their enthusiasm for advocacy. Their message reflected the festival’s theme for 2017; “For freedom, for justice, for all.” Just as they worked together to put on a show, they told the audience that they to can work together towards a safer world.

The Global Citizen Festival lives up to its name and shows what can happen if we come together in unity. In addition to the entertainment, the attendees were left informed on many of the issues that may not affect them directly but have an affect on humanity as a whole. The crowd was filled with the hope that even the tiniest act of change can prosper into something amazing.