Carla Bruni serenades an absent Mandela

Celebrities turn out to perform for South African statesman's anti-Aids charity – and a star-studded audience

Carla Bruni sang the pacifist anthem "Blowin' in the Wind" in her first public concert since she became the French First Lady in a star-studded concert for Nelson Mandela at the weekend.

A nervous-looking Ms Bruni, accompanied by The Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, won thunderous applause from an equally-celebrity-filled audience, which included her husband, President Nicolas Sarkozy, in the Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Ms Bruni had pledged that she would not make live appearances while she was First Lady of France but made an exception for the Mandela jamboree to mark the veteran anti-apartheid campaigner's 91st birthday.

Making her American concert debut, she said that she had chosen the Bob Dylan number as a "song by another famous activist".

She also sang a ballad of her own, "Quelqu'un m'a Dit" [Someone Told Me], which she announced, in English, was "not good for dancing. But it's good for dreaming." Among the other performers at the charity concert included Gloria Gaynor, Aretha Franklin and Cyndi Lauper.

The guest of honour was absent because his doctors have advised him not to travel long distances. The concert marked the first Mandela Day. The organisers, the Mandela Foundation, hope this will be celebrated annually on the South African leader's birthday to raise money for his anti-Aids charity and to remember his achievements.

Supporters were encouraged to give 67 minutes of the day for charitable work – 67 being the number of years that Mr Mandela worked for racial equality in South Africa. His campaign is called Campaign 46664 – his prison number while in jail.

There is no precedent for the First Lady of a large country singing at a pop concert. Ms Bruni looked somewhat unsure how to behave. She wore a chic black trouser suit and strummed her guitar but radiated a kind of political aloofness rather than a rock musician's bonhomie.

President Sarkozy and his wife and a posse of bodguards left the hall soon just after her performance to catch a plane back to Paris. She therefore missed the grand finale: Stevie Wonder singing "Happy Birthday".

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk