[New York Post Article]
HIP-HOP, HOORAY!! WYCLEF AND HIS FRIENDS WOW THEM AT CARNEGIE
By DAN AQUILANTE
ROLL over Beethoven, tell Tchaikovsky the news.
The hip-hop barrier was broken last night at the venerable Carnegie Hall when Wyclef Jean became the first artist of the genre to headline music's most sacred shrine.
If it relieves the stuffed shirts, the concert which benefited Jean's foundation (dedicated to music education for kids) wasn't a typical mugs 'n' thugs hip-hop gathering, but then, Jean isn't the typical hip-hop artist. His outspoken commitment to kids was the magnet that attracted the likes of Eric Clapton, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, Charlotte Church and other musical celebrities to play what will be remembered as one of the most eclectic, memorable concerts of 2001.
If there is one complaint that could be made about this terrific show, it was that 2 1/2 hours was just too little time to squeeze in all the goodness that was on tap.
While Jean's former bandmates from the Fugees were conspicuously absent from this musical variety program - ending rumors that the show was going to reunite the Grammy-grabbing trio - Jean got more than a little help from his other friends.
For many in the audience, the Clapton/Jean guitar duel was the sun that this star-studded concert orbited around. Seeing rock's most famous ax man and hip-hop's most accomplished guitarist strumming together in the final breaths of the show neatly delivered the night's very simple, yet very big message: Music unites people and crosses cultures. Heavy stuff made light by deeds, not words.
Clapton donned his standard black-on-black suit, but his all-smiles attitude betrayed the somber attire. He and Jean projected an old-friends relationship even though this was the very first time the two had ever played together. Their song "Is This Romance?" was good, although a keen eye and ear picked up a nervous hesitance in Jean's fret work.
It may have been due to working out with one of the legends of his youth and it could have been because he injured a finger when he was break dancing with the B-boys of the Rock Steady crew who made an early-show appearance.
The highs outnumbered the lows at this show that aimed at diversity. While the many children from Wyclef's foundation who performed during the event were very accomplished, the unspoken desire was for more minutes for the host of heavy hitters such as Blige, Houston and Church. Not to mention the night's secret musical weapon, Stevie Wonder, who redefined the overused kudos - awesome.
Wonder, in duet with Jean for the reggae beat "Gone 'til November", was terrific on harmonica and surprisingly good in a freestyle rap/scat with the show's host.
Of the women singers, Houston was in top form for both her gospel and a pop numbers; Blige also was very good performing "911" with Jean. That song, one of the most popular off of Jean's latest disc "The Ecleftic", easily unglued the fans from their seats.
But of all the big names, it was little 14-year-old Charlotte Church who - in her duet with Jean on "Summertime" from George and Ira Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" - earned the night crown as queen of the divas. Church's pure, soaring soprano against Jean's classical guitar work would have raised goose bumps on a dead man.
Music events just don't get much better than this one. Jean's biggest problem now is how he'll top this show at next year's fund-raiser.
NEWSFILE: 20 JANUARY 2001
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