May 20, 2008 / 12:43 AM / 10 years ago

Latin stars sing for poor children at concerts

BUENOS AIRES/MEXICO CITY (Billboard) - A lineup of Latin mega-stars including Shakira, Ricky Martin and Alejandro Sanz performed simultaneously on stages in Buenos Aires and Mexico City at the weekend, raising awareness for the needs of poor children in Latin America.

Colombian pop singer Shakira performs during "The Concert For The Children" organized for the Latin American aid organization ALAS (Latin American in Solidarity Action) in Buenos Aires, May 17, 2008. A lineup of Latin mega-stars including Shakira, Ricky Martin and Alejandro Sanz performed simultaneously on stages in Buenos Aires and Mexico City at the weekend, raising awareness for the needs of poor children in Latin America. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

Outspoken Colombian rocker Juanes, one of the most anticipated performers at Saturday’s event, was absent due to problems with his plane.

Organized by the Fundacion ALAS (Latin America in Solidarity Action), the concerts, which have been widely referred to as the Latin American version of 2005’s Live 8 anti-poverty concerts, brought together more than 380,000 people in the Mexican capital’s Zocalo plaza and the riverside Costanera Sur in Buenos Aires. Mexican magnate Carlos Slim and Howard Buffett, son of billionaire Warren Buffett, donated $200 million to combat poverty in Latin America.

In Buenos Aires, the eight-hour show took off with a performance by Mexican bombshell Paulina Rubio. At dusk, as the moon rose over the River Plate, Uruguayan singer/songwriter Jorge Drexler performed his Oscar-winning song “Al Otro Lado del Rio,” from “The Motorcycle Diaries.”

Rockers Fito Paez and former Soda Stereo frontman Gustavo Cerati came out for the most magical moment of the night, together singing Cerati’s hit “Crimen” and Paez’s anthem “Ciudad de Pobres Corazones.”

At the end of the show, ALAS founder Shakira took the stage with Sanz for their chart-topping duet “La Tortura.” Shakira also perfumed with Mercedes Sosa, the popular Argentine who is an emblematic figure of Latin American social commitment. Shakira closed the concert with Cerati, singing Soda Stereo’s spine-tingling homage to Buenos Aires, “En la Ciudad de la Furia.”

In Mexico City, David Bisbal started a marathon show for the thousands in the city’s historical center who were undeterred by day-long rain. Hosted by Miguel Bose, co-founder of ALAS, the concert featured, among others, Mexican popular heroes Tigres del Norte, Timbariche, Ricardo Montaner, Babasonicos, Chayanne, Emmanuel and Aleks Syntek.

Martin surprised the audience by singing his crossover hit “Livin’ la Vida Loca” in English, ostensibly to take awareness of the concert beyond Spanish-speaking borders.

Mexico’s classic rockers Mana performed their recent hit “Labios Compartidos,” followed by the evocative “Donde Jugaran los Ninos” (“Where will the Children Play”).

“It’s time that the politicians stop losing time arguing about unimportant issues and that they focus on the children,” Mana singer Fher Olvera told the crowd. “Our attitude is going to force them to do it.”

However, other than some artists’ declarations and short messages shown on the screens during the show (32 million children in the region live on less than a dollar a day, according to the foundation), there was little information available to demonstrate how ALAS and its artist members were working directly to improve the quality of life for Latin American youth.

But the excitement in Mexico continued with the appearance of Juan Luis Guerra, who appropriately for the day, performed “Ojala que Llueva Cafe.” Just after midnight, Bose sang a duet with Ana Torroja of Mecano fame. His set was followed by a spectacular finale with the participants reuniting on the Mexico City stage to sing the chorus to his hit “Te Amare.”

Reuters/Billboard

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