46664: The Event

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46664: The Event

Realizing his towering influence was needed to counteract the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS, Nelson Mandela asked the Eurythmics' David Stewart to use 46664 – the prison number South Africa's apartheid government tried unsuccessfully for 20 years to reduce Mandela to – for a new global initiative to counteract the tragedy. Killing more people than both World Wars combined, HIV/AIDS is history's worst disaster. The pandemic is especially brutal in Africa, home to 70% of the world's afflicted adults, and 80% of the globe's infected children. Stewart asked Joe Strummer to write lyrics, which he did before his untimely death last year, and with Bono's help Stewart finished "46664 (Long Walk to Freedom)." Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor joined, and soon a simple number became a recording project, and then a sold-out concert of 40,000 late last year in South Africa. The concert's subtitle, "The Event," may seem bold, but not since Live Aid has there been such support and talent for such a worthy cause. Concert organizers and South African stars were joined by Paul Oakenfold, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Angelique Kidjo, Peter Gabriel, Jimmy Cliff, Ms. Dynamite, Beyoncé, Bob Geldof, Eurythmics, Youssou N'Dour, the Corrs, Anastacia, and U2's Edge and Bono. To raise awareness and funds, 46664 has put together an excellent document of this extraordinary concert, available on two DVDs or three CDs. Both formats are worthy, but the event's gravity translates better visually, where the smiles and tears can be seen as well as heard. Like most music DVDs, there are far too many edits, but extra features (artist interviews, AIDS survivor documentaries) and highlights – the Soweto Gospel choir singing "Bohemian Rhapsody," a grand piano/acoustic guitar rendering of the Eurythmics' "Here Comes the Rain," Yusuf Islam and Peter Gabriel doing "Wild World" – more than make up for it. Visit www.46664.com to learn how you can help.

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