Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys, Boyz II Men Perform At Great Wall Of China    ·    September 29th, 2004

It was a historic sort-of first on Saturday when Alicia Keys, Boyz II Men, Cyndi Lauper and Nellie McKay performed modern pop music beneath the shadow of the Great Wall of China, one of the marvels of the ancient world.

Though organizers promoted the concert as the first by foreign musicians at the wall, British DJ Paul Oakenfold performed there last year and released a live recording of the show, called Great Wall.

But none of that mattered to the more than 5,000 Chinese fans in attendance, many of whom held handmade signs and screamed loudly during the performances.

Despite the autumn chill in the air, the sprightly Lauper performed her set barefoot. Keys was a bit more subdued, taking a seat at her piano while wearing a leather jacket and a hat pulled low over her face.

“Thank you for having me at the Great Wall,” she said over the audience’s cheers, before launching into her eight-song set. And at a press conference earlier last week, she told the assembled international media just how much of an impression the ancient surroundings had made on her.

“Away from America, things are so much more historic. I am very inspired by my surroundings, and being on tour gives me that opportunity,” she said. “To see the people, the faces, the culture … the song of it, the sound of it is very exciting. From Amsterdam to China, I’m inspired by being there.”

“There are good walls and there are bad walls,” added Lauper. “I played at the Berlin Wall and I saw that wall come down, and I was very joyful to be able to play there.”

Called the Wall of Hope - China 2004, the concert was held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Great Wall restoration project. It was also the first in a series of benefits planned for the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Proceeds from the concerts will go to the China Children and Teenagers’ Fund.


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