Global human rights organization Amnesty International is set to kick off a benefit concert series with an Aug. 21 show at Los Angeles' John Anson Ford Theatre featuring co-headliners Aimee Mann and B

Global human rights organization Amnesty International is set to kick off a benefit concert series with an Aug. 21 show at Los Angeles' John Anson Ford Theatre featuring co-headliners Aimee Mann and Beth Orton. The series is expected to stretch through next spring in various U.S. cities, with Chicago and New York as possible locations.

The Amnesty International concerts will feature commentary by activists, artists, and celebrities in addition to the music. The organization also plans to use the shows as a forum to shed light on what it calls prisoners of conscience (POC): activists who are currently being held for charges relating to "non-violent expression of their beliefs." The organization will entreat concertgoers to petition the POCs' respective captors or governments for their release, providing form letters at the concerts.

"By working with popular artists, Amnesty International hopes to expand the grassroots movement that during our 40-year history has helped free 40,000 political prisoners," Amnesty International executive director Dr. William F. Schulz said in a statement. "The support of these artists will bolster Amnesty International's reach to young activists, who are critical to the movement for social change."

No artists save Mann and Orton have yet been confirmed for participation in the series. Orton's latest album, "Daybreaker" (Astralwerks), was released last week in North America and debuted at No. 8 on the U.K. album chart last month. Mann's fourth solo album, "Lost in Space" (SuperEgo), is due next Tuesday (Aug. 13).

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