Global Citizen has unveiled lineups for three of the international settings for its 24-hour “Global Citizen Live” broadcast for Sept. 25. Billie Eilish, Jennifer Lopez and Lizzo are among the headliners in New York City’s Central Park; Ed Sheeran, Doja Cat and H.E.R. will be among the toppers in front of Paris’ Eiffel Tower; and Femi Kuti will lead the charge in Lagos, Nigeria.
The lineup is yet to be revealed in other cities that will host the concerts around the world, although Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans says the climactic Los Angeles component of the day-long show will take place at the Forum in Inglewood, with that venue’s acts to be revealed on August 25.
The bill for the Great Lawn in Central Park also includes Coldplay, Meek Mill, Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes as co-headliners, with Cyndi Lauper, Lang Lang, Burna Boy and Alessia Cara advertised as special guests.
In Paris, Black Eyed Peas, DJ Snake and Christine and the Queens are among the additional headliners, with Angelique Kidjo as special guest. The Lagos show also sports Davido, Tiwa Savage and Made Kuti.
Additional performances are expected to be announced in all three cities. “When you hear a couple of announcements that we’ve (still) got for Paris, it’s going to be freaking spectacular,” promises Evans — “like, blow-your-mind spectacular.”
That still leaves a significant portion of the artists already announced officially homeless for the time being, including the Weeknd, Metallica, Green Day, Keith Urban, Duran Duran, Usher, Andrea Bocelli and BTS — though the last act is a pretty safe bet for whenever the Seoul lineup is announced. Rio de Janeiro, London and Sydney are also “Global Citizen Live” locations that are yet to have their headliners announced.
Evans says that with proof of vaccination required in all locations as well as a masking requirement, the plan is to allow the Central Park setting to fill up to full capacity. “We’re allowed to have the full audience of 60,000 people on the Great Lawn of Central Park, because we’re being very conservative with our approach” to requirements for admission, he says. “The same in Paris — we’re allowed to have over 20,000 people there.”
The event in Lagos will have a much smaller audience, and also be pre-recorded, in reflection of the higher COVID rates there. “That’s actually also a function of the size of the venue,” Evans says. “But we did want to do justice to the fact that we needed to highlight the heroic healthcare workers across the continent who are on the frontline, given that Africa has had 6 million COVID cases in the last eight weeks.”
In all cases, Global Citizen feels confident that the requirements for admission that were set for the “Vax Live” taping at L.A.’s SoFi Stadium in May — the first large event of its kind in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic — were a good test run for having a vaccinated audience in these other locales, and, to his mind, set a standard that others in the industry doing vaxxed shows now are looking to follow. “I don’t want to blow our trumpet because you’ve always got lessons to learn in this area,” Evans says, “but I’m starting to see some of the biggest promoters now adopting policies that we were already implementing back in May. And so I think our team is incredibly experienced when it comes to: What does it take to pull this off from a testing protocol? From a vaccination verification protocol? We want to make sure that we don’t just comply with the latest COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, but we go above and beyond. ”
The Sept. 25 date was not an arbitrarily chosen one or even one picked with favorable logistics in mind. Although the concerts are being held on six continents, New York is really the target audience — or, rather, the leaders from around the world that will be gathered there.
“It’s literally during the UN General Assembly meeting, on the eve of the COP26 meeting,” Evans says. “You’ve got the first time in the entire year where you’re going to have all of these heads of state focused together over a one-month period. This is an enormous rallying cry. We want this rally to be heard on every corner of the world, to petition philanthropists and CEOs and governments to commit to the social solutions that those with billions of dollars can bring about.”
The army of producers and executive producers may not have as much name value as the artists, but it’s just as mobilized, to make a six-continent broadcast and webcast come off.
“Probably that the story that matters to me most is the story of everyone coming together to pull this off,” Evans says. “I was on the phone earlier with Michele Anthony of Universal; she’s been working so hard. Yesterday Rob Light came into the office from CAA, and he was here for hours, just working away on it. There’s this grit and determination that I’m seeing. We held a production summit last week, Chris, where we had producers from Jane Mun through to Ken Ehrlich through to Done and Dusted Productions through to Livewire…really great people who are putting that skin in the game. (Live Nation’s) Michael Rapino is stepping up an amazing way. Guy Oseary is working on this harder than anything we’ve ever worked on before. Sal (Wassim “Sal” Slaiby), the Weeknd’s manager, has been working so hard on this, it’s extraordinary. Tina Kennedy, who works with Irving Azoff. has just been an absolute champion, working so hard on the Sydney event, and on Los Angeles.
“I deserve no credit compared to the army that is behind this. They’re there working around the clock with not much sleep. because they all want to change the world. I think everyone right now feels a sense of both hope but also pressure because the Delta variant is having a terrible effect on the planet. People are dying. and climate change is getting worse. We’re seeing that with the floods across Europe and the fires across Northern California, and then we’re also seeing right now the conflict in Ethiopia fueling an enormous hunger crisis. So wherever you turn right now, there’s glimmers of hope, but also extraordinary challenge.”
Global Citizen’s goals are threefold, focused on the pandemic, world hunger and climate change. “The first push is to get at least a billion vaccine COVID-19 doses to the developing world by the end of summer,” Evans says. “Because right now as we prepare, we’re facing a huge surge with 6 million cases in the last eight weeks. And we don’t see failure in this area just as a moral or a humanitarian issue. It also makes no sense from a public health point of view because your vaccine will become far less effective in the face of future variants. … You know, when you’ve got over 50% of the population of the U.S. and Europe fully vaccinated and less than 2% of Africa fully vaccinated, it’s just terrible from a public health planning point of view, let alone them the other implications.
“The second focus is on the hunger crisis that’s been exacerbated by COVID-19, because crises like hunger don’t politely wait their turn until COVID is over. We’ve seen 41 million people now across the point of Africa on the brink of starvation. And so we need to get $6 billion raised for the World Food Programme to fight hunger in Ethiopia, Yemen and Southern Sudan.
“And then the final, big push is: You probably heard John Kerry say that this climate change negotiation later this year is our last best hope to achieve a breakthrough climate negotiation, and that’s wonderful rhetoric, but it’s only gonna happen if the Fortune 500 companies commit to net zero plans to reduce their carbon emissions. Right now only a quarter of them have done. So we need to see that the Fortune 500 step up in a way that they haven’t done before. We also need to see nature-based solutions to actually pull carbon from the atmosphere, which basically means saving and restoring over a billion trees in 2021. And so that is really the three big pushes for the campaign — ending the pandemic, keeping the hunger crisis from growing further and addressing the immediate climate crisis.”
The activism is aimed at government and corporations, both. “When the White House received tens of thousands of tweets and members of Congress received phone calls from tens of thousands of global citizens at once, it’s enormously powerful. When a world leader’s Twitter account is bombarded with messages from global citizens all around the world, they immediately immediately respond.” Evans says. “And some of it is about private deployment. Last week we were thrilled that Mark Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, joined our core partners and has been sending emails to his fellow CEOs in the Fortune 500, encouraging them to go towards that net zero pledge. When you’ve got leadership at that level driving it, as well as the actions of global citizens, it creates this unstoppable force.”
Adds Evans, “Just taking a step back for a second, we only get one shot at this. You know, we get one shot at trying to achieve a breakthrough climate negotiation, so the energy we have to build has to be unstoppable. And so that’s why we’re working so hard around the clock right now on every individual location, but also on how we can have every genre involved? So whether it’s Keith Urban with country music or the incredible Latin artists that we’re about to announce, or whether it’s having the greatest pop artists like Billie Eilish or the greatest R&B like Usher or the greatest rock artists like Coldplay and Metallica, we were really trying to cover every single genre.”
Among the places where the Sept. 25 broadcast can be seen in full or part are ABC, ABC News Live, the BBC, FX, iHeartRadio, Hulu, YouTube and Twitter.