Keep a Child Alive’s 13th annual Black Ball drew a star-studded crowd consisting of actors, musicians, and humanitarians to Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on Wednesday night.
The charity event, which brought ’80s activism to life with neon-colored street art, was both an auction and benefit concert to raise awareness and funding to eradicate AIDS in adults, and more specifically, children.
“We still have a long way to go. AIDS is the number one killer of adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said KCA CEO Peter Twyman. “[Black Ball] is a call to action … calling out people to help end the epidemic once and for all.”
KCA co-founder and the night’s host, Alicia Keys, told Variety that the ball serves as a reminder of why the organization began. “When it first started in 2004 it really showed me a whole new world, bigger than the world that I knew. I just knew that if everyone could see what I saw they would also feel moved to want to change it.”
The event also honored renowned music executive Clive Davis for his efforts towards the cause, including speaking about the issue even when it wasn’t fashionable to do so. Davis released “That’s What Friends Are For” to draw attention to AIDS in 1985, in addition to attending every Black Ball since the org’s inception.
“Just let me say how touched I am … so very personally touched, Alicia, to accept this wonderful honor from you tonight,” he said.
The awards ceremony was followed by Salt-N-Pepa bringing the audience to their feet with performances of their hits “Push It,” “What s Man,” and “Let’s Talk About Sex.”
“Even in the song we say we know they aren’t going to play this on the radio, which was a challenge,” said Salt (Cheryl James) of Salt-N-Pepa about “Let’s Talk About Sex.” “It ended up being a song about communication which is what tonight is about.”
Highlights included performances by A$AP Rocky, Chance the Rapper, and punk legend Patti Smith, who was moved to tears while thanking Keys for her involvement. “We cannot let one child suffer if we can help it. Thank you for letting me come aboard.”
After the Black Ball, Swizz Beatz, who’s married to Keys, spun old-school hits while guests, including Angie Martinez, Naturi Naughton, Alek Wek, Padma Lakshmi, and Russell Simmons, mingled.
Keep a Child Alive’s Black Ball was live-streamed for the first time on TIDAL.