Beyonce Saves The Planet
Beyoncé has taken on a new starring role.
The Houston-raised superstar brought down the house at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival in New York's Central Park Saturday with a one-hour concert combining inspirational ballads with anthems of female empowerment.
She performed hits like "Crazy in Love," "XO, "Halo" and "Single Ladies" — at one point wearing a sequined bodysuit with "Houston" emblazoned on the front — and was joined by Ed Sheeran for an acoustic version of "Drunk In Love" that had the enthusiastic audience of more than 60,000 roaring their approval.
"I want y'all to feel the connection right now ... I want y'all to get lost and dance like children," she told the crowd.
The concert, which drew a star-studded lineup that included Coldplay, Ariana Grande, Sting, Common and Pearl Jam, is focused on ending poverty around the world. Timed to coincide with the U.N. General Assembly meeting on Monday, it drew a number of world leaders, including the prime ministers of Sweden, Norway and Australia, vice president Joe Biden, first lady Michelle Obama, Queen Rania of Jordan and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Also on hand were Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates and wife, Melinda, whose foundation has worked to eradicate polio throughout the world.
Fans earned free tickets by taking action on a host of world issues from education to the environment at globalcitizen.org. The festival is timed to coincide with the launch of the United Nations’ new Global Goals designed to fight inequality, protect our planet and end extreme poverty by 2030.
"With your efforts, we can achieve the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030," Late Show host Stephen Colbert told the crowd after taking the stage on Hugh Jackman's shoulders. "That is a noble goal and may I point out that it is before many of you will pay off your student loans."
Other celebrities included Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Connie Britton, Olivia Wilde, Salma Hayak, Daniel Craig, Susan Sarandon, Usher, Jason Sudeikis and Laverne Cox.
Coldplay opened the concert with "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall," and the band was joined by Ariana Grande for "Just a Little Bit of Your Heart." Later, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin joined Sheeran for a version of "Thinking Out Loud," while Sting joined Common for "Every Breath You Take" and a medley of "One World (Not Three)" and "Love Is the Seventh Wave."
Beyoncé joined Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder on stage for a stunning acoustic duet to Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," while her husband, Jay Z, and daughter, Blue Ivy, were backstage.
But it was teenage Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafza who drew the biggest applause with an impassioned plea for educating girls and ending inequality.
"I want education to be the top priority because how can we end poverty ... when we deny the right to education," she said. "It's not that there is lack of money in this world ... we have billions and trillions of dollars, but where the money goes is military, it's things that are useless and that are not useful to society."
"It is a book and a pen that can change the life of a child — it's not a gun," Yousafzai added. "It was a gun that hit me on the left side of my forehead, it was a gun that hit my two friends, but it wasn't a pen. But it was a pen (that) really helped us go forward in our lives."
See Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran perform a duet to "Drunk in Love":
Beyonce duets with Eddie Vedder on "Redemption Song":