New York concert to commemorate Mandela Day

Thu Jun 4, 2009 5:31pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Aretha Franklin, Queen Latifah, Cyndi Lauper, the Soweto Gospel Choir and France's First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy will perform in a concert next month to celebrate Nelson Mandela's 91st birthday.

The concert at Madison Square Garden on July 18 will honor the former South African president and international symbol of reconciliation and forgiveness on the first annual global "Mandela Day," which was proposed to commemorate his birthday and inspire people to improve their lives within their communities.

"Mandela Day is about creating a movement for positive change and establishing one day to reflect upon, celebrate and make manifest the values that guide Nelson Mandela," Tim Massey, the international director of Mandela's AIDS awareness charity 46664 -- his number while a political prisoner at Robben Island - said in a statement.

Dave Stewart, Josh Groban, Wyclef Jean and Jesse McCartney will also appear along with a host of other entertainers at the concert which is the culmination of a week-long series of events in the city.

Former President Bill Clinton, who will host a fundraising dinner with Mandela's wife Graca Machel in the week before the concert at Grand Central's Station's Vanderbilt Hall, described him as a great inspiration for everyone.

"In return for everything Madiba has taught us, we each owe it to him to support his work and legacy by doing and living our own as best we can, not just on this day, but throughout our entire lives," Clinton said, referring to Mandela, South Africa's first black president, by his clan name.

Mandela's 90th birthday was commemorated with a concert hosted by Hollywood actor Will Smith in London's Hyde Park.

<p>Former South African President Nelson Mandela (C) and his wife Graca Machel (R) talk to President Jacob Zuma after the state-of-the-nation address in Parliament, Cape Town June 3 2009. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings</p>