Flea, Talib Kweli, Joan Baez and others also made appearances.
“Music is our universal language,” said Jesse Paris Smith, co-founder of the climate change awareness initiative Pathway to Paris, at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan on Sunday (Nov. 5). “Now is the time to turn words into action.” Her mother, rocker Patti Smith, joined her and fellow co-founder Rebecca Foon for a recitation of Emily Dickinson’s poem “Nature is what we see,” accompanied by the younger Smith on piano and Foon on cello.
“We send our prayers to the people of Texas,” she said, in reference to the evening’s news about the victims of gun violence in Sutherland Springs, Texas, before launching into a set of thoughtful, stripped down selections, including Cat Stevens’ “Where Do The Children Play” and her own rallying anthem, “People Have the Power.” That number, as Michael Stipe pointed out when he took the stage, served as the theme of the evening, whose proceeds went to Pathway to Paris, 350.org and the United Nations Development Program.
Stipe joined a diverse collection of musicians, activists and artists including Joan Baez, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, Cat Power and Tibetan vocalist Tenzin Choegyal, all performing songs that spoke to the night’s concerns in literal and more metaphorical ways. Stipe sang moving renditions of the Nat King Cole classic “Nature Boy” and the Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning”; Baez’s set opened with a cover of Antony and the Johnsons’ “Another World,” a lament for our dying planet which she noted “couldn’t be more apropos for this evening -- it’s a song as dark as it can get, and as beautiful.”