Shawn " Jay-Z" Carter will become the first solo hip-hop artist to headline Carnegie Hall on Feb. 6 and 7, playing a pair of charity concerts benefitting the United Way of New York City and Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation. Carter made the announcement at Carnegie Hall Thursday alongside key execs like Clive Gillinson, executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall, Gordon Campbell, president-CEO of United Way of New York City and Dania Diaz, executive director of the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation.
Tickets for the shows will begin with a private sale geared toward corporations and high net-worth individuals, ranging in price from $500 to $2,500 apiece. A public sale will tentatively kick off on Jan. 30 to minimize ticket scalping, with prices more in the range of a typical Jay-Z concert. "We're gonna have some legendary nights, some loud music and it's gonna be a fun, beautiful experience," Jay-Z said.
The rapper could not confirm whether his current tour-mate Kanye West or any other guest would appear at the concerts just yet. "There's no guests on the Watch The Throne tour, maybe no guests on this, but some time when there's guests maybe you'll be surprised," he teased.
The concerts will mark some of the biggest fundraising efforts yet for the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation, which was founded in 2002 by Jay-Z and his mother Gloria Carter. The organization's mostly grassroots work has helped award $1.4 million in college scholarship money to over 750 low-income high school students, with a heavy concentration in the Marcy neighborhood of Brooklyn where Jay-Z grew up.
"We've gone a little unnoticed," Diaz, the foundation's executive director, said at the press conference. "This is truly an amazing opportunity to do some great work." She added that one-third of New York's low-income population will enter college and one-seventh will actually graduate. The foundation is aligning with President Obama's similar goal to increase college retention to 60% by 2010.
Two of the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation's successful alumni also made appearances at the press event - Pedro Hernandez, a participant in the United Way of NYC Attendance Improvement and Dropout Prevention program, and Bianca Darby-Bell, a senior at Brooklyn College and beneficiary of the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation. Asked whether he personally evaluates the foundation's beneficiaries, Jay-Z said, "It's always been really grassroots in my mind. My mom would just get on the bus for college tours with students for many years…If my mom didn't kick them off the bus then they make it."