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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."