“Be ashamed to die until you’ve done something to make the world a little better than it was when you arrived.”
These are the words that Martin Luther King III left with the 24,000 people who filled the Carrier Dome at Tuesday’s One World Concert. There is no doubt that the show left every attendee and performer feeling like they’d accomplished that task, even if only by gaining a better understanding of their neighbors.
The concert, which was emceed by Whoopi Goldberg, showcased talent from across the globe, both classic and contemporary, everyone sharing a common dream for a more peaceful world.
Not to mention that the esteemed guest of honor was His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
One hour into the program, Goldberg left the stage after stating, “I know one or two of y’all are here to see me, but more than anything we are here because we are on that search for what we can do to bring peace. I’m going to leave the stage and if I’m not back, someone better than me will be.”
Following her exit was a montage displayed on the two jumbo screens on either side of the stage showcasing those who have visited the campus on peaceful endeavors in the past. Faces from President Bill Clinton to Oren Lyons, who was the first person to take the stage at the One World Concert, turned into images of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. As the montage ended, His Holiness arrived on stage, adorned in a Syracuse visor, to a standing ovation from the massive audience.
Shortly after quirkily admitting to his disinterest in music, The Dalai Lama mused the audience, discussing how fundamentally similar each member of humanity is and the importance of understanding one another in order to be happy with ourselves.
“Do not see tolerance and forgiveness as signs of weakness, but as signs of strength,” The Dalai Lama continued, receiving a tumultuous response from the crowd.
The Carrier Dome was filled with intent silence-broken only by screams of support or laughter, as that of The Dalai Lama was completely contagious.
Touching on subjects from education to world affairs, The Dalai Lama provided insight as to how we can create peace from the inside out, ending his forty-five minute speech with “It can be a different world if we make the attempt now.”
The Dalai Lama warned that he might not be able to stay awake throughout the entirety of the concert, as his usual bedtime is 6:30 p.m.
After he took a seat side stage, where he remained until it was time to go to sleep, The Dalai Lama was followed by one of the evenings most anticipated guests, Dave Matthews.
Matthews introduced Lama Tenzin, the personal Emissary of Peace for The Dalai Lama, who segued into the next musical number with these words in broken English; “I think now it’s time to rock.”
The audience remained completely mesmerized as Dave Matthews flawlessly played “Don’t Drink The Water,” a song aptly chosen for the evening, during which he reprised “This Land Is Your Land.”
Matthews introduced his second song, “Mercy,” as one with a connection to The Dalai Lama.
“This is the song that I lifted from His Holiness. My mother likes this song.”
Matthews continued with another love song, “Stay or Leave,” before ending his set with a cover of “Take Me To Tomorrow,” by John Denver, leaving the dome with an air of tense amazement.
Before The Dalai Lama had taken the stage, the show kicked off with as much excitement as it ended with. Joanne Shenandoah and her daughters were the first musical act, belting haunting harmonies as the crowd settled into their seats.
“Are you ready for a little peace in your life? Are you ready to go for that peace?” Whoopi Goldberg riled the crowd before introducing the appropriately chosen world rock group, TEAL-ONE97, who captured the audience with the intriguing opening of “New Day,” before sealing the deal with an explosion of sound full of rich, uplifting harmonies. It was immediately apparent that this would be a night to remember.
Decked out in their native attire, follow up act, Voices of Afghanistan kept the audience captivated with more Middle Eastern influenced music. It is rare that thousands of people clap and wave along emphatically to an opening act; alas this was a one of a kind evening.
The musical acts that followed Dave Matthews were even more captivating than those who preceded him.
Next up was classic rocker, David Crosby, of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fame. While he filled the dome with his classic croon, David Crosby’s smile and soul proved him to be a timeless act.
The succession of artists failed to disappoint, with a classic act followed by the more contemporary Natasha Bedingfield. She performed her hit single “Unwritten,” as the entire crowd gave a celebratory dance. Bedingfield’s voice was even more raw and powerful live. Nelly Furtado followed with her latest single, “Spirit Indestructible” which boasted a bridge powerful enough to send hundreds of fists into the air.
Modern stars of the male variety were even more abundant. Phillip Phillips, the most recent winner of American Idol, pleased the crowd with a brilliant performance of his original song “Home.” Matisyahu kept the groove going with his jam “One Day” just before Andy Grammer ran circles around the audience while singing his hit “Keep Your Head Up.”
Cyndi Lauper followed a trio of contemporary artists, her sweet voice complementing the deep, soulful one of Angelique Kidjo during a rendition of “True Colors.” David Sanborn joined the two with his saxophone. Kidjo remained on stage for another number, filled with African beats and fancy footwork to match them.
The audience enjoyed every single artist, old and young. The excitement of the crowd even brought on the wave, which seemed to sync perfectly with the wails of Roberta Flack during her cover of George Harrison’s “Isn’t It A Pity.”
The energy filling the dome didn’t falter for a second, even through the powerful yet slow tune from Englebert Humberdinck. In case anyone did get bored during the slow jam, Swizz Beatz and Emmanuel Jal took over with a reggae infused cover of “We Want Peace” by Alicia Keys, delivering yet another performance that was impossible to sit still to. Luckily, the crowd got to rest their feet soon after, while being serenaded by the smooth R&B of Bebe Winans.
After a performance from three international pop stars, Shani Rigsbee left the stage with the words, “I’m standing next to two very important pop stars from Israel and from Iran. See what we can do with music?”
After a beautiful reminder of why the One World Concert was taking place to begin with, to promote world peace, it was time for symbols of American culture to close the show.
The Counting Crows were the final act of the night and were well worth the wait. They ended their twenty-minute set to with the fan favorite, “A Long December.” Before pouring out of the carrier dome, the crowd, which was clearly laced with Crows fanatics, sang and danced until the very last word.