News / Arts & Entertainment

Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams Head Line-up at Montreux Jazz

FILE - Stevie Wonder (C) performs the Daft Punk's song "Get Lucky" with Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers (L) at the 56th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Jan. 26, 2014
FILE - Stevie Wonder (C) performs the Daft Punk's song "Get Lucky" with Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers (L) at the 56th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Jan. 26, 2014
Reuters
— Stevie Wonder will headline the Montreux Jazz Festival, fulfilling a longtime wish of its late founder Claude "Funky" Nobs, in its 48th edition which also brings red-hot Pharrell Williams to its famed stage.

The line-up for the July 4-19 festival, unveiled on Thursday, includes former Blur front man Damon Albarn, hip-hop duo Outkast, the veteran Van Morrison, Massive Attack, and R&B Californian newcomer Banks.

Nobs, who died after a ski accident in Jan. 2013, tried to bring Wonder to Montreux, one of Europe's most prestigious summer music festivals, but the one million Swiss franc ($1.13 million) purse was out of reach at the time.

At the presentation, Mauritian pianist Jerry Leonide, who opens for French drummer Manu Katche on July 14, played a few bars of "Superstition" as Wonder's name flashed on an electric board.

"We tried to get Stevie many times. This time we made a collective offer through the International Jazz Festival Organization, along with Istanbul and North Sea in Denmark," Montreux festival director Mathieu Jaton told Reuters.

Seats for Wonder's concert at Stravinsky Auditorium on July 16 go on sale on Friday for a whopping 450 Swiss francs ($510), with standing places at 185 Swiss francs. Tickets for Williams' show on July 7 will cost either 135 or 370 Swiss francs.

American producer Quincy Jones, co-director with Nobs in the 1990s, calls Montreux the "Rolls-Royce" of festivals. This year's budget is 25 million Swiss francs for the event that draws some 250,000 fans to the lakeside resort.

"Get Lucky," "Happy"

Pharrell Williams, booked for July 7, features on Daft Punk's dance track "Get Lucky" with Nile Rodgers, which won the record of the year at the Grammy Awards in January.

He is still on the airwaves with "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke, who plays Montreux on July 13, and Williams' upbeat R&B hit "Happy", the lead song from the "Despicable Me 2" animated film for which he composed the music.

"You hear Pharrell Williams everywhere on the radio and television. He has produced incredible pieces. He is the artist we had to get this year," Jaton told Reuters.

"Happy" returned to the top of Britain's music charts for the third time on March 2, becoming the first single in 57 years to do so, the Official Charts Company said.

Chris Rea returns to the Montreux stage for the first time in 14 years on July 5, Morrison plays on July 15, and Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter are booked for July 18. Mexican duo Rodrigo & Gabriela open on July 8 for Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame.

"Hard rock brought them together," Jaton said of the unusual double bill.

The festival's archives of nearly 6,000 hours of music contained on 10,000 recording tapes are being digitised to preserve the history of Montreux concerts by jazz giants including Miles Davis, Ray Charles and B.B. King.

"The digitizing is nearly done. The archives were recognized by UNESCO last year as part of the world's cultural heritage," Jaton said. "We have the same spirit and way of doing things, but of course we miss Claude."
 
($1 = 0.8860 Swiss francs)

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."