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Nelson Mandela Birthday Concert 2008: Josh Groban joins line-up

Josh Groban

Story by Jack Foley

MULTI-million selling classical pop singer Josh Groban (pictured) and legendary folk rock singer Joan Baez are the latest guests to be added to the forthcoming Nelson Mandela 90th birthday concert taking place in London’s Hyde Park on the evening of Friday, June 27.

There will also be a special appearance by Jerry Dammers, one of the organisers of Artists Against Apartheid and Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday concert, and whose song Free Nelson Mandela became a banner for the 80’s anti-apartheid movement in the UK.

According to the concert organisers, “these three artists hold a special place with Nelson Mandela”.

Groban, like Dammers, has pre-existing links with Mr Mandela and the causes he has addressed in his years as one of the world’s most revered statesmen.

The singer, who emerged as the biggest selling recording artist in the US last year, is already an Ambassador for Nelson Mandela’s 46664 organisation, appointed by Mr Mandela when the two met in South Africa in 2004.

Inspired by that meeting, Groban established the Josh Groban Foundation to help children in South Africa through education, healthcare and Arts. His 2007 Noel Christmas album featured the African Children’s Choir.

Joan Baez, meanwhile, provided one of the most influential voices of the 1960’s folk rock era and has continued to do so in the years that have followed. Along with Bob Dylan, her songs have defined generations of peaceful protest against various political issues.

The latest additions to the birthday concert line-up follow last week’s confirmation that Amy Winehouse will be adding her voice to those who will show their support for Mr Mandela and his 46664 organisation by taking part.

All four new artists join a performance line-up that already includes Queen + Paul Rodgers, Annie Lennox, Simple Minds, Leona Lewis, Sugababes, Dame Shirley Bassey and Razorlight, along with more than a dozen of Africa’s most highly regarded artists including Johnny Clegg, Soweto Gospel Choir and Papa Wemba.

The 90th birthday evening concert now boasts an extraordinary roster of some of the most important artists of the 20 years which have passed since London first came together to call for Mr Mandela’s release with the 70th birthday concert on June 11, 1988.

“The 46664 message is one that needs to be heard in every corner of the world. These artists between them reach into every one of our communities – upholding Mr. Mandela’s message that HIV AIDS is not a local issue, but a universal one,” said a spokesman for 46664.

The three and a half hour 46664 Concert Honouring Nelson Mandela at 90 begins at 6.30pm Friday, June 27.

Remaining tickets for the concert are available from 46664tickets.com or through Ticketmaster.

General admission tickets are £65 (plus booking fees). Find out more