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14 juin 2005

Outcry over lack of African artists at Live8

Picture / Reuters

14.06.05 4.00pm By Ciar Byrne

Bob Geldof is under fire for the lack of African performers in the Live8 lineup.

The organisers of Live8 are to stage a concert for African performers at the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK, but have failed to quell fierce criticism over the predominantly white and Western line-up of the main events.

Midge Ure met Peter Gabriel, founder of the world music festival Womad, who is involved in organising the Cornish concert and the Eden Project's chief executive, Tim Smitt, yesterday to discuss details of Africa Calling.

It will be on July 2 at the same time as concerts in France, Italy, Germany and the US.

A seventh concert, also featuring African musicians, is planned for Johannesburg following criticism from the likes of the Blur and Gorillaz frontman, Damon Albarn, the DJ Andy Kershaw and the Senegalese star Baaba Maal over the lack of involvement of African artists.

Gabriel said: "I talked at some length with Bob about this. I understand his criteria of trying to keep the largest audience around the world switched on and looking at issues about Africa through the artists selling the most records. "I would have done it a different way - I think it's important to be seen to be allowing the voices of Africa to be heard directly. A lot of artists don't feel this is a perfect situation, but respect the aims and goals. It's a difficult enough job trying to do what they want to do."

The involvement of Womad is a u-turn for the Live8 organisers.

Last week, a spokesman said: "Bob Geldof's intention was to get headline-grabbing shows full of people who fill stadiums and arenas. This is not Womad. We are not doing an arts festival."

Ure said yesterday that Live8 would have an "African feel".

He told BBC Breakfast News that it was "a nonsense" that there was a shortage of African stars.

He said: "When I was asked to come on board a few weeks ago, the first people I went to was Peter Gabriel's Womad and they were the first people to commit to coming along and having African artists perform at it."

He added that the Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour was due to play at the Live8 concert in London and the one in Paris.

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