Musicians and artists join the fight

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The Independent Culture

A host of musicians and artists, including Annie Lennox and Damien Hirst, will use their talents to raise money for victims of Aids in several major events over the next few months. Today sees major figures from the world of music, such as Peter Gabriel, Corinne Bailey Rae and the band Razorlight, take to the stage for the Nelson Mandela Aids benefit concert.

More than 30 local and international artists are to perform at the charity event in Johannesburg, as part of World Aids Day. It is the fifth concert of its kind in South Africa. More than five million people are HIV positive in the country, which has one of the highest HIV rates in the world.

A crowd of 50,000 people are expected at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg for the concert today, which uses Mandela's prison number, 46664, as part of its marketing. Since retiring from politics, Mandela has become a vociferous campaigner for Aids awareness. His son, Makgato, died of the disease two years ago.

The American rock band the Killers are also backing the cause by releasing a Christmas single today in aid of the campaign. All the proceeds of "Don't Shoot Me Santa" will be invested in African Aids programmes. The band did the same last year with their single "A Great Big Sled".

Not to be outdone, the art world has also given its backing to the campaign. Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons are among 60 top artists who will be auctioning their works at a special (RED) sale at Sotheby's next year. The event is expected to raise close to 25m for the cause in one day. The auction, at Sotheby's New York auction rooms on Valentine's Day, will feature pieces from some of the best-known names in contemporary art. Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Cecily Brown and Takashi Murakami will all be giving their work for free, so that it can raise maximum funds.

An exhibition of the works due to go under the hammer will be held from February 4 to 13 at New York's Gagosian gallery.