The seventh annual Global Citizen Festival took place on Central Park’s Great Lawn on Saturday with an estimated 60,000 people in attendance. The event aspires to eradicate global poverty and attendees “pay” for their admission by showing their contributions to making the world a better place. This year, headliners included John Legend, Janet Jackson, The Weeknd, Shawn Mendes and more.
Big-name celebrities made appearances, from Robert DeNiro and Naomi Campbell to politicians like Governor Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons. Each urged attendees to be the generation to push social change, and to get out and vote ahead of the November 6 midterm elections.
Janelle Monae addressed sexual assault survivors
Musician Janelle Monae kicked off the festival with songs from her latest album “Dirty Computer” including “Crazy, Classic, Life” and “Make Me Feel.”
Monae expressed her signature neo-soul vibe as she rocked out on a mint-colored guitar, and asserted a theme of female empowerment by sitting on a throne as she rapped her song “Django Jane.”
In the middle of her set, Monae addressed the crowd with a message to survivors of sexual assault, saying, “I hear you, I see you.”
She ended by dedicating her performance to “Dr. Ford, Anita Hill and all those working to make this world a better place.”
John Legend called out politicians and performed new song “Preach”
Ten-time Grammy award winner John Legend, who has never shied away from criticizing President Trump, came prepared to speak about politics.
“We have politicians here talking the talk. But we gonna follow up with them, right? We need legislation passed. We’re going to follow up with you, Gov. Cuomo,” Legend said to cheers and applause.
Legend also urged the crowd to vote and hold elected officials accountable for the needs to underserved communities.
Accompanied only by a piano, Legend introduced a new song called “Preach” — a soulful ballad about “how frustrating it can be to look at your phone, read the news, see what’s happening,” he told the audience.
Cardi B returns to the stage months after giving birth
Chart-topping hip-hop artist Cardi B made her big return to the stage just two months after giving birth to her daughter, Kulture Kiari.The 25-year-old proudly showed off her post-pregnancy body in a red fringe two piece, and performed hit songs “Bodak Yellow” and “I Like It.”
Her return was filled with the same energy and funny quips that define Cardi B’s presence on the stage.
Cardi B admitted that she was “nervous” and “sweating,” toning down her performance “for her health,” but she still dominated the stage with her quick-fire verses.
The new mom also stressed the importance of young people voting, even admitting that she didn’t take the last election seriously. “It is our right to vote and no one can take that away from us,” she said. “We need someone in office that is going to represent us, is going to protect us.”
Coldplay frontman Chris Martin calmed down the crowd after chaos erupted when a barrier collapsed
In a terrifying moment during a break between performances, a police barrier collapsed and caused a panic among the concert goers.
The loud noise prompted rumors of an active shooter, and people ran towards the nearest exit.
As police scrambled to help anyone that may have been injured during the rush, Coldplay singer Chris Martin quickly took the stage to calm attendees, letting them know they were safe.
“A barrier fell down. Of course it caused people to be a little frightened and stuff like that but nobody is trying to hurt anybody,” Martin said, before handing the microphone to NYPD Assistant Chief Kathleen O’Reilly to confirm.
There were NO SHOTS FIRED at #GlobalCitizenFestival. The sound was a fallen barrier. @NYPDCentralPark @GlblCtzn
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) September 29, 2018
Janet Jackson and actress Dakota Johnson used the stage to talk about sexism and the mistreatment of women
Music icon Janet Jackson stole the show at this year’s festival with an exciting routine, packed with hits like “Rhythm Nation” and “All for You.”
The 52-year-old performer’s set was also filled with emotional moments as she gave a tearful tribute to her late brother Michael Jackson while singing their hit “Scream,” and during “Together Again,” images of Janet and her late father Joe Jackson appeared on a big screen.
Jackson finished her set by demanding equality for girls and an end to prejudice and mistreatment. “I’m sick, I’m repulsed, I’m infuriated by the double standards that continue to treat women as second-class citizens,” said Jackson.
In similar fashion, actress Dakota Johnson shared her personal phone number on the festival stage and encouraged girls to leave her voice messages, text messages and emails sharing their stories of sexual assault so that she could help amplify their voices.