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Celebrating Nelson Mandela

05:05 AM Thursday 5/8/08 | |

A stellar lineup of musicians, celebrities and politicians will gather in London next month to pay tribute to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and icon of freedom, Nelson Mandela, as he turns 90.

The three-hour 46664 Concert will take place June 27 in Hyde Park and is being billed as "a gathering of 46,664 great friends and supporters."

Artists specially invited to perform include Queen + Paul Rodgers, Annie Lennox, Simple Minds, Leona Lewis, Sugababes, Dame Shirley Bassey, Razorlight, Andrea and Sharon Corr, Eddy Grant and Jamelia, along with international 46664 ambassadors Italy's Zucchero and Spain's Amaral.

Joining them is an impressive list of South African artists including Johnny Clegg, Sipho Mabuse, Loyiso, Kurt Darren the Soweto Gospel Choir, AIDS orphan choir The Children of Agape and Papa Wemba, as well as Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal.

Politicians and celebrities expected to appear include President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey, Robert de Niro, Forest Whitaker and British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton.

A number of special surprise celebrities and musicians are also expected.

Several of the artists chosen to perform are being recognized by Mandela for voicing their support for him over the past 20 years, beginning with 1988's Free Mandela concert, which called for his release from Robben Island.

Simple Minds were instrumental in making the event happen and Annie Lennox appeared with Eurythmics and has since become one of the most active ambassadors for Mandela's 46664 AIDS organization.

Lennox, along with Dave Stewart and Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor, played a key part in the foundation of 46664 in 2003.

The June event will be Mandela's final public engagement during a visit to the U.K.

"You all know that I am supposed to be retired but my friends and the charitable organizations that bear my name want to use my 90th birthday year to raise funds to contribute to our work and so, of course, I want to help them," Mandela said. "So, we have a bargain - I am going to London and they will host a concert in Hyde Park which will raise awareness of our continuing work and much needed funds."

Concert proceeds will go to the 46664 campaign, which raises awareness about the impact of AIDS - especially in Africa - and promotes effective HIV prevention measures throughout the world.

Other fundraising events as part of the celebration will benefit the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

General admission tickets, which are £65 (approx. $127), go on sale May 9 at LiveNation.co.uk.

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