Keep a Child Alive's Black Ball Featuring David Bowie

November 2006. New York City, The Hammerstein Ballroom, Manhattan Center

Keep a Child Alive is an innovative charitable organization that is dedicated to providing life saving anti-retroviral treatment to children and families living with HIV/AIDS in Africa, and other parts of the impoverished world. In November 2006, Empire was privileged to support KCA, helping to produce their third annual Black Ball fundraising benefit. This year's program was generously sponsored by the Condé Nast Media Group and held at the Manhattan Center's Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.

The event began with a cocktail reception and gallery viewing of a Michael Thompson photography exhibit. The photo series, entitled "I Am African," featured celebrities such as Gwenyth Paltrow, Elizabeth Hurley, Richard Gere, Seal, Heidi Klum and others in African attire and was featured in 18 Condé Nast publications. During cocktails African-inspired music was provided by New York's City DJ Tipka. Following the cocktail reception, the 600 plus guests entered the stunning Hammerstein Ballroom lit by candlelight where guests enjoyed a three course dinner and truffle dessert.

The star-studded dinner was attended by notable celebrities including Valentino, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Anne Hathaway, Zhang Ziyi, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Petra Nemcova, Russell Simmons, Kimora Lee Simmons, Tyson Beckford, Helena Christiansen and many others who showed up to support KCA's efforts. Following the dinner and a second concert seating and reception in the first balcony, an extraordinary program began that saluted humanitarians and remarkable leaders in the fight against AIDS. Wanda Sykes emceed the program with her sharp style and wit and introduced speeches and appearances by Leigh Blake (President & Founder of Keep a Child Alive), Iman (Global Ambassador for Keep A Child Alive), Dr. Stephen Lewis (U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS), Elijah Wood, Russell Simmons, Jeffrey Wright, and Ed Norton. The program also honored Carol Dyanti, of the Ikageng Ministries, Soweto, South Africa, Dr. Paul Farmer, of Partners in Health and Richard D. Beckman, President of the Condé Nast Media Group for their courageous support in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

After the speaking program, rock band Louis XIV kicked off the concert performance. Saul Williams, a spoken word artist, delivered a powerful piece, followed by a jamming performance with Alicia Keys and her band which included "Paradise," "Broken Wings," and Jimi Hendrix' "Voodoo Child." Other highlights of the concert included Alicia's duets with other talented artists: "Welcome to Jamrock" and "Road to Zion," with Damian Marley, and "Africa," with African Queen, Angelique Kidjo. A high point of the show was when David Bowie took the stage to sing "Fantastic Voyage," and performed an incredible duet with Alicia Keys on "Changes". Following the concert, the guests danced the night away during an afterparty with old school hits spun by DJ Cassidy.

Empire served as overall event producer for the Black Ball and managed all aspects of the event including site selection and contracting, logistics, catering, décor, talent coordination, production, security and onsite management, collaborating with Keep a Child Alive and other partners and donors. Empire Entertainment is proud to serve as partner of Keep a Child Alive in saving lives and raising awareness in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.

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