Aloe Blacc headlines Chicago’s Global Citizen’s Night
By Tricia Despres For Sun-Times Media April 16, 2014 6:04PM
Aloe Blacc, with Johnnyswim and The Main Squeeze, 8 p.m. April 24, The Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield. Tickets: Visit www.globalcitizen.org/Nights
Aloe Blacc finds himself at that eminent moment of his career where he can do no wrong — so he is doing something so right.
Blacc will serve as headliner of Chicago’s Global Citizen Nights on April 24, a free (though ticketed) concert series “that furthers the grassroots movement to see an end of extreme poverty by 2030.”
“One of the first 45s my parents bought me when I was a young child was ‘We Are The World,’ which had a huge impact on my understanding of what artists could do to make a difference,” says Blacc, whose father is a retired major in the Marine Corps. “I was approached by an affiliate of the Global Citizen organization named Jerry Deifer Jr. who works closely with the grandchildren of Winnie and Nelson Mandela. The Mandela grandchildren had asked if I could help their cause to ‘make poverty history’ and join the Global Citizen movement. It was an honor I couldn’t refuse.”
“What’s unique about these shows is that 90 percent of our tickets have to be ‘earned’,” explains Hugh Evans, CEO of the nonprofit organization The Global Poverty Project, which serves as the foundation of events such as Global Citizen Nights and the annual Global Citizen Festival in New York City. “You can’t just go to a concert, have a good time and go home and forget about the cause. You have to be an active participant to even get there.”
To attend the show, fans earn tickets via www.globalcitizen.org/Nights. Once signing on as a “Global Citizen” people pick which “action” they can do to help end extreme poverty — from sending a tweet to signing a petition to watching a video — to earn points. Activists use the points to enter a lottery for a free ticket to the show. The Fray kicked off the series at SXSW last month, while the Chicago date at the Vic will serve as only the second of the growing Global Citizen Nights series.
“This show is a reward for all of the service offered by the people who worked so hard in their communities to earn the tickets,” says Blacc, who will be joined on stage in Chicago by Johnnyswim and The Main Squeeze. “I love the concept of offering your time to a charity in exchange for a concert or some other attractive reward. This is the way forward to create incentives for making positive social change.”
Giving back on stage is becoming a trend for artists, who are agreeing to play intimate venues in the name of a good cause. “We are already planning shows through the year 2016,” explains Evans. “It’s been amazing to have the support of the music industry via artists who are agreeing to perform for free and donate their time to do these shows. The whole idea is really building.”
Blacc’s career is building, too. Fresh off his electric performance at Coachella, Blacc comes into Chicago with his music playing just about everywhere. From his hit “The Man” being featured in a Beats By Dre television commercial to the success of his collaboration with Avicii on the worldwide hit, “Wake Me Up,” Blacc seems poised to share his voice and his songwriting talents to a much larger global audience.
But for now, Blacc says he is just downright ecstatic to have an excuse to visit Chicago.
“During the summer after my first year in college I interned across the street from the John Hancock building and had a corporate apartment overlooking Navy Pier,” says Blacc, who opens for Bruno Mars at the United Center June 20. “I enjoyed walking to work, rain or shine, and traversing new streets every morning.”