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Singer-songwriter John Legend got political when introducing his new song, “Preach,” on Saturday at the 2018 Global Citizen Festival in New York.
“I wrote this song recently, it’s not out yet. It’s called ‘Preach.’ In the song we talk about how frustrating it can be to look at your phone, read the news, see what’s happening,” he told the audience assembled in Central Park. “See how senators treat women who come forward with sexual abuse claims. See how people ridicule young people who march for the right to go to school without getting shot up. See how people would denigrate those who make the very simple claim that black lives matter. We can get frustrated when we see all of that, but we can’t give up. It’s not enough for us to talk about it or tweet about it, we’ve got to do something.”
After receiving screams and applause when mentioning senators, Legend then said that the song was inspired by people “who are out there doing something” and that the message of the song was that people can’t just “preach” but must act.
Legend has been vocal in his opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whose nomination process saw Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford speak before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. During the Kavanaugh and Ford hearings on the Senate floor, Legend tweeted that he believed Ford and that Kavanaugh sounded like “a complete asshole.”
The singer has also starred in an ad opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Earlier in his introduction to the song, Legend mentioned his campaign Free America, which aims to promote awareness around issues involving the criminal justice system and change the conversation on the issue. He also encouraged audience members to vote. “We have a lot of work to do. And we can’t just talk the talk. We have politicians here talking the talk. But we gonna follow up with them, right? We need legislation passed. We’re going to follow up with you, [New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo]. All of our governors throughout the country, we’re paying attention and we’re voting. Are we voting everybody?” Legend said.
The festival was headlined by Legend, Janet Jackson, The Weeknd and Shawn Mendes and hosted by Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness. The goal of the concert was to encourage leaders to reach the U.N.’s sustainable development goals and to end extreme poverty by 2030.
Watch Legend’s performance of “Preach,” below.
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