NetAid Gets Star Powered Launch

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Wyclef, Bono, Bowie, Quincy & Puffy unite with world leaders to mark the start of NetAid

"We're declaring war on poverty," Quincy Jones proclaimed. John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, Inc., echoed that with, "The power to end extreme poverty is now online." But it was Bono who cut through the cliches at this afternoon's NetAid press conference in New York to get to the heart of the matter.

"I'm kind of suspicious of the warm, fuzzy feeling aspect of what we're doing," the U2 frontman said when he took his turn at the mic to explain the goals of the just-launched www.netaid.org, touted in the press pack as "the world's most powerful Web site to fight extreme poverty." "To be honest with you," Bono continued, "it's a really hard sell."

What they're selling is the idea of the Internet being used to spearhead an ongoing campaign to promote awareness of worldwide poverty and to combat it through education, volunteerism and the donation of goods and money. Up until now, most talk of NetAid has concerned the three all-star benefit concerts scheduled in New Jersey, London and Geneva on Oct. 9. Each of the speakers at today's press conference in the Millennium Hotel -- including United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and entertainers Wyclef Jean, David Bowie and Sean "Puffy" Combs -- made it clear that NetAid is an ongoing crusade.

"The difference this time," said Jones in comparing NetAid to past benefits like Live Aid, "is that the Internet enables people to take action over and over again, and do much more than contribute money one time." To wit, the NetAid homepage includes separate sections addressing ways to not only fight hunger and poverty, but how to help refugees, secure human rights and save the environment. The first "clicks" on the Web site were made by President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former South African President Nelson Madela, each of whom voiced their support of NetAid and its goals via satellite.

"I commend all the sponsors of NetAid for their generosity and vision," said Clinton. "And like many of you people, I'm looking forward to the simultaneous concerts on Oct. 9..."

Following Clinton's address, Quincy Jones took the floor to announce the lineup for the New Jersey show at Giants Stadium. The concert, which will be broadcast on VH1, MTV and on the NetAid site, will feature Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes, Counting Crowes, Puff Daddy, Jimmy Page and friends, Sting and Cheb Mami, Bon Jovi, Zucchero and Jean with Bono. The London show at Wembley Stadium will feature Bowie, Bush, Bryan Adams, Eurythmics, the Corrs, George Michael, Bryan Ferry, Robbie Williams, Catatonia and Stereophonics, while the Geneva show at the Palais des Nations will have Des'ree, Michael Kamen and orchestra, and Texas.

Jewel and Sheryl Crow have also been confirmed to play NetAid, but a specific venue has yet to be decided for them. Jones said more artists are expected to join the different lineups in the coming weeks.

The press conference also marked the premiere of the video for the Wyclef/Bono NetAid anthem "New Day," which finds the U2 singer sporting a top hat and Clef in a giant white suit stuffed with people. The single will be released commercially on Sept. 14, but it can be streamed in its entirety on the NetAid Web site.

"Unfortunely, U2 can't make [the concert] because Edge is due a baby that week," Bono later explained. "So, I'm just going to be singing the tune with Wyclef."

Tickets for the Giants Stadium show will cost $35, $50 and $75 and go on sale Friday via Ticketmaster. Tickets for the Wembley show are already on sale, while the Palais des Nations show is by invitation only. RICHARD SKANSE

Copyright © 1999 Rollingstone.com, Inc. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on September 9, 1999 6:22 AM.

Wyclef Jean, Bono To Perform 'New Day' At Benefit was the previous entry in this blog.

Bono And Friends Praise "Funky Pontiff" At World Debt Summit is the next entry in this blog.

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