Eclectic array of stars at NetAid...
Shortly after 5 o'clock Saturday afternoon, an eclectic array of pop stars put aside their musical differences and gathered onstage at Giants Stadium to kick off the American portion of the NetAid concert.
Hearty-voiced Bono of U2 shared a microphone with wispy-voiced Jewel. Modern-rock darling Michael Stipe, a surprise guest, stood feet away from hip-hop-soul diva Mary J. Blige. And Meryl Streep got down with Wyclef Jean as he led the artists and the audience in a buoyant version of 'New Day', a single he made with Bono for NetAid.
The seven hours that followed offered more collaborations between musicians representing different genres, cultures and generations. Singing the U2 hit One, Bono was accompanied by an orchestra of Juilliard students conducted by Quincy Jones.
Sting teamed with French-Algerian singer Cheb Mami on two songs, including 'Desert Rose', a track from Sting's new album.
Guitar hero Jimmy Page joined the Black Crowes for a medley of Led Zeppelin classics, including 'Whole Lotta Love' and an instrumental version of 'Dazed and Confused'. And Page was one of two celebrated guitarists who jammed with rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs and his bevy of scantily clad female dancers.
Erstwhile Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash, another surprise guest, lent his hard-rock panache to the Combs hit 'It's All About the Benjamins'.
"I just got a call at the last minute," said Slash, sitting in his dressing room moments before going onstage.
"(Combs) and I were hooked up once before, but it didn't happen. I was going through all kinds of ups and downs with Guns N' Roses - leftover details that needed to be dealt with. But at this point, I could do this (performance) with Puff Daddy. And I thought the song was great."
Backstage, other performers also gave props to their NetAid co-stars, including some who appeared at companion concerts in London and Geneva.
"I wish I'd seen Bowie live," said Jewel, who was accompanied by her omnipresent mother/manager, Nedra Carroll. "He's awesome." Blige, who was resplendent in a wine-colored patent-leather jacket and matching boots, was "really psyched" to meet the relatively demure Jewel. "And I saw Quincy Jones, so that made me excited. And I saw Wyclef. So I'm good, you know?"
Jones had a hard time deciding which performers he enjoyed most.
"Everybody was great," he said. "Puffy and Bono and Wyclef and Sheryl Crow and Counting Crows and Jewel and Mary J. Blige - the arrangements behind Mary J. Blige just kill me. And Sting - I've been a fan of his for 25 years. We used to call him 'Stang.'"
Jones also praised the pope, whom he and Bono recently met for a discussion of developing nations' debt, one facet of NetAid's focus on extreme world poverty.
"His health has been frail, but he pulled everything together mentally and physically to be there for us," Jones said. "He had some hot shoes on, too - really, some mack-daddy shoes."
Some of the artists discussed their decision to take part in the concert, which was organized largely to promote the month-old www.netaid.org site. "I've had sort of a beef with the Internet, because I think it creates and really propagates a pretty individualistic mind-set and a separatist attitude," Sheryl Crow said.
"I think if you actually can get people involved on the Internet to do something that's world-minded - I just thought it was an incredible idea and one that I would definitely want to support."
Will there be a second NetAid concert?
"I think so," Jones said, "because when you get this kind of encouragement, you know it's gonna grow.
Everybody's got their eye on the ball."
(c) USA Today by Eylsa Gardner