Socialist Worker

Charlie Gillett on a missed opportunity to showcase Africa’s artists at Live8

Award winning radio presenter Charlie Gillett gave Socialist Worker his views on Live8

Issue No. 1958a

I admire Bob Geldof but the fact that he has chosen to run this event with virtually no African artists is bewildering. Each artist has only got 15 minutes, so it’s not like anyone is going to be on stage for very long.

There are a number of African artists who would just blow everybody away. These are artists who have been denied access to a worldwide audience for all sorts of reasons.

This could have been an opportunity that would have changed the lives of quite a few musicians. Tracy Chapman was virtually unknown when she played at the first Live Aid. Her entire career was launched by the brilliant presentation she did.

There’s a singer from Algeria called Souad Massi who has all the appeal that Tracy Chapman had, with possibly even something extra. She’s a singer/songwriter who sings songs about the things that are important to her.

There’s a woman from Portugal, originally from Mozambique, called Mariza. She is just heart stoppingly brilliant as a star. She’s one of the great stars of today, of any kind of music.

A quarter of an hour of Mariza would really shake people, it would change their view and the kind of music that they are aware of. I won’t go down the whole list but I could easily think of ten artists who would have that effect.

These are not people necessarily with African connections because it isn’t just that we are trying to draw attention to the contribution of African music to the world.

We are also saying that it isn’t only English speaking US and English artists that make music of any quality that need to be on this kind of stage.

My ongoing mission is to get people to realise that there is great music coming from all over the world.

Music is such a fantastic means of communication you don’t have to understand the language or anything else. You just have to hear it to realise it’s fantastic.

Live8 was the opportunity of a lifetime, so why all these things didn’t cross Bob’s mind I don’t know.

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Sun 3 Jul 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1958a
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