Ste­fani, Usher per­form for Earth Day


A day­long Earth Day con­cert had R&B star Usher danc­ing on crutches Satur­day on the Na­tional Mall in Wash­ing­ton to rally thou­sands for po­lit­i­cal ac­tion to con­front cli­mate change and poverty.

Usher, Mary J. Blige, Gwen Ste­fani, Com­mon, Fall Out Boy and Train all per­formed dur­ing the free Global Cit­i­zen 2015 Earth Day rally hosted by and Soledad O’Brien.

Af­ter suf­fer­ing a frac­ture in his foot, Usher was in a cast but drew big cheers when he got his dance on any­way. He sang his hits, in­clud­ing “Yeah!” and “OMG” and also teamed up with Com­mon to sing the be­gin­ning of “Glory,” the Os­car-win­ning song from the movie “Selma.”

“To end poverty, it starts, in my opin­ion, with an ed­u­ca­tion about it,” Usher told the crowd. “I want you to go and in­ves­ti­gate for your­self so that you can re­ally un­der­stand what’s go­ing on.”

The rally was a joint ini­tia­tive of the Global Poverty Project and Earth Day Net­work. It co­in­cides with meet­ings at the World Bank and In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund. Usher joined the poverty project at the White House on Fri­day for a meet­ing with of­fi­cials.

“I felt re­ally good that the is­sues we are ad­dress­ing here are on the ta­ble,” he told The As­so­ci­ated Press. Af­ter his per­for­mance, Usher said his pas­sion is ex­pand­ing ed­u­ca­tion to help end poverty. But the im­pacts of cli­mate change also have se­vere im­pacts on the world’s poor, he said.

“Global warm­ing is some­thing that ob­vi­ously will af­fect all of us. Clean wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion is some­thing that is very real,” he said. “I un­der- stand and can­not turn a blind eye to what’s go­ing on.”

For his part, played host and said the huge turnout shows peo­ple are con­cerned.

“What I hope hap­pens post the con­cert is that peo­ple go out and talk about some of the is­sues that we were spell­ing out to­day,” he said. “Talk about so­lu­tions, go on­line, dig deep and hold our lead­ers accountable for some of the things that they’re pledg­ing.”

Back­stage, Train front­man Pa­trick Mon­a­han said he didn’t know much be­fore about the en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment and the push to end ex­treme poverty. But now he wants to stay in­volved per­ma­nently.

“It’s about all of us be­ing aware but get­ting our hands dirty be­cause it’s not go­ing to be an easy thing,” Mon­a­han said.

Mon­a­han said he’s been in­spired by the char­i­ta­ble work of Cold­play’s Chris Martin and the Global Poverty Project, which has set a goal to end ex­treme poverty by 2030.

Pa­trick Stump and Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy played some of their hits and said they wanted to show their fans ev­ery­one has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to help.

“How do you wake up ev­ery day know­ing that a lot of th­ese things are within our grasp and just kind of be like oh, OK, what­ever,” Stump said. “It’s frus­trat­ing. But I think we’re here for the re­al­ity that it’s hope­ful. We can ac­tu­ally do some­thing. We can ac­tu­ally ef­fect change.”

Wentz said is­sues around the en­vi­ron­ment and poverty will be as big as the cit­i­zens’ de­mand dur­ing the up­com­ing pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

“We’re who elect our of­fi­cials. We’re who em­power them,” he said. “So if we care about them, and they’re im­por­tant to us, then they’ll be im­por­tant to the politi­cians run­ning.”

The rally also touched on global health and devel­op­ment needs. The U.S. Agency for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment an­nounced from the stage that it will com­mit US$126 mil­lion to rebuild West African health care sys­tems that were bro­ken by the Ebola out­break. The U.S. gov­ern­ment al- ready has spent US$1.4 bil­lion on the cri­sis to sup­port 10,000 hu­man­i­tar­ian re­spon­ders and to pro­vide equip­ment, lab­o­ra­to­ries and train­ing.

While Earth Day is of­fi­cially on April 22, the Satur­day rally asked par­tic­i­pants to com­mit to mak­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly “acts of green.” Or­ga­niz­ers also asked at­ten­dees to sign pe­ti­tions for a U.N. con­fer­ence on cli­mate change planned for Paris in De­cem­ber.


(Above) Gwen Ste­fani, of the band No Doubt, per­forms at the Global Cit­i­zen 2015 Earth Day on the Na­tional Mall in Wash­ing­ton on Satur­day, April 18. (Right) Usher per­forms at the Global Cit­i­zen 2015 Earth Day on the Na­tional Mall on Satur­day.

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