By Marwa Hamed, Staff Reporter [@ Gulf News]
Kick-off whistle for #FiFA-World-Cup-2010
It’s a year for firsts. Not only is the World Cup taking place on African soil for the first time, but it will also have a separate concert in its honour — something we’ve never seen before.
A day before the attention turns to the fields of South Africa, all eyes and ears will be on the massive kick-off celebration that will bring together 17 artists in the vast Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg tonight. If that’s not enough, past and present football legends will be present, making it a true World Cup event.
A three-hour event jam-packed with music, the celebratory show has been called “the greatest entertainment event to date in Africa”. It will be host to world renowned artists #Alicia-Keys, #Shakira, John Legend, #Black-Eyed-Peas and many more.
Though the stadium’s audience capacity is only 30,000, millions will tune in to watch history in the making during the live broadcast of the show.
Controversy flared around the lack of South African voices in this year’s World Cup soundtrack. A South African union called for a boycott of the kick-off concert, claiming there’s not enough local acts, and that the “elitist event” is too expensive at over Dh200 per ticket. Despite similar complaints boosting the number of South African artists included from three to seven, the union was still not pleased.
The South African line-up includes jazz musician Hugh Masekela, bands Freshlyground, The Parlotones, BLK JKS as well as singer-songwriter Vusi Mahlasela, the Soweto Gospel Choir, and the Mzansi Youth Choir.
In an unfortunate turn of events, the South African portion of the World Cup music suffered another blow when opera singer Siphiwo Ntshebe, dubbed the “next Pavarotti” and handpicked by Nelson Mandela to sing the key song at the opening ceremony, tragically died of meningitis only weeks before he would showcase his talent to millions. He was 34.