"At first I thought, 'How on earth do you make 17 things famous?'" Martin said at an intimate lunch at New York's Locanda Verde, where he announced the partnership alongside Global Poverty Project CEO Hugh Evans, the festival's creative director Richard Curtis, and Amina J. Mohammed, UN special advisor of the secretary-general on Post-2015 Development Planning. "And then I thought, 'By making them as glamorous as possible, with very noticeable people.' It's not an easy number. But on another level, it's remarkable that with 193 countries and 7 billion people, we only have to do these 17 things and life gets better for a lot of people. And as long as you ask Beyonce to say one of them and [former UN secretary-general] Kofi Annan to say another one, it becomes something that kids talk about."
Martin said he first heard about the opportunity through his friend Jay Z's ad agency co-founder Steve Stoute, CEO of Translation, and then called up fellow musician-turned-activist Bob Geldof for advice to make sure he wouldn't be perceived as competing with Geldof's Live Aid or Bono's (RED.) "I spoke to Bob and said, 'How can we help?' Everyone has this togetherness vision, which sounds a little hippie at first -- just as 'Imagine' does -- but the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. The reason we wanted to get involved with [Global Citizen] was because they include everybody, all NGOs."
Martin's role will officially kick off with the 2015 Global Citizen Concert, to be held Sept. 26 on the Great Lawn of New York's Central Park (produced by Grammy veteran Ken Ehrlich). But first, Global Citizen is prepping its first 2015 Earth Day concert, to be held at Washington, D.C.'s National Mall on April 18, with a lineup announcement coming later this month. Performers at the 2014 Global Citizen Concert in New York include Jay Z (with special guest Beyonce), fun., Carrie Underwood, No Doubt, Sting and Alicia Keys.
In fact, Global Poverty's Evans cites the 2014 show as a prime example of "pop and policy coming together in the last few years." During No Doubt's set, frontwoman Gwen Stefani introduced Norwegian prime minster Erna Solberg, who pledged $1 billion to the Global Alliance of Vaccines and Immunizations Replenishment Fund. "There was even a wonderful letter sent to her by No Doubt and she left afterwards saying, 'I'm going to consider every point you've made.'"