'All-white' Live 8 lineup slammed
LONDON, England -- British singer Damon Albarn has criticized the predominance of white stars on the bill of Live 8 and attacked the concert series for portraying Africa as a distant "failing" place.
The Blur and Gorillaz star also urged the performers to prove they were not in it for themselves by putting pressure on their record labels to give cash from increased sales to the cause.
Five free concerts will take place on July 2 in London, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Philadelphia. Charity rocker Bob Geldof said the aim was to pressure world leaders into eradicating poverty.
Performers expected at the Hyde Park show in London include Elton John, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Coldplay, The Cure, REM, Scissor Sisters, Sting, Robbie Williams and U2. The only black stars on the 24-act bill are Ms. Dynamite and Snoop Dogg.
Asked if he would be taking part in any of the concerts around the world, Albarn told the BBC on Friday: "No. I am not. I haven't even been asked...
"I don't want to take part in an event that is so exclusive. Is this the most effective way to help Africa?"
He said the lack of major black artists was "the greatest oversight" and undermined the whole project.
"This country is incredibly diverse. More than ever, black culture is an integral part of society, so why is the bill so damn Anglo-Saxon?
"If you are holding a party on behalf of people, then surely you don't shut the door on them.
"It's insensitive and it also perpetuates this idea that Africa is separated in some way.
"In a way Live 8 does that: it doesn't make you feel closer to Africa, it treats it like it's a failing, ill, sick, tired place.
"My personal experience of Africa is that yes, I have witnessed all those things there, but it's incredibly sophisticated -- the society and the structure of people's lives is as sophisticated, if not more sophisticated in some ways, than in the West."
Asked what more the artists could do, he said: "Surely there should be some kind of tariff on the record companies.
"It is without question that all the artists that play there will enjoy increased record sales."
Geldof has also called for one million people to march through Edinburgh four days later, in what he calls "The Long Walk to Justice."
The walk will coincide with a meeting of the world's richest nations at the G8 summit at Gleneagles, some 40 miles (65 km) to the northwest.
Police have been concerned by Geldof's call for one million protesters to descend on the city. But he has dismissed the fears, saying: "I'm going to do it. I need you to be with me. Numbers make things political."
The singer said men like Martin Luther King had changed history with one million people and added that he was not talking in metaphor.
The Live 8 concert -- a repeat of 1985's Live Aid -- highlights the ongoing problem of global poverty and debt in the developing world.
Geldof described the original event as "beautiful" and said it had resonated down the ages. "It wasn't enough this time just to do a concert," he added.
"There had to be some political and intellectual bones behind it." He said Africa was the "greatest political problem at the beginning of our century."
Some people have criticized the events because they believe Geldof and organizers are overestimating how much good they can do in Africa, when many countries suffer from corruption.