'Beirut is part of me': Mika to perform concert in aid of blast recovery

Lebanese-born pop star will stream the fundraising event on YouTube

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 12, 2016 British-Lebanese singer and songwriter Mika performs during the 40th edition of "Le Printemps de Bourges" rock and pop music festival in Bourges.  Mika, born in Beirut, will organise a live streaming concert on September 19, 2020 for the victims of the devastating explosion at the port of the Lebanese capital, said on August 21, 2020, the fundraising site GoFundMe associated with the event. / AFP / GUILLAUME SOUVANT
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Mika will perform an online concert for Beirut.

In the wake of the Lebanese capital's August 4 port explosion that killed 179 people and wounded more than 6,000, the pop star and producer aims to raise funds for the recovery effort, with concert proceeds going to the Red Cross Lebanon and Save the Children.

Taking place on YouTube on Saturday, September 19, the show will feature a selection of Mika's effervescent pop hits such as Relax, Take It Easy and Grace Kelly. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster at £10 (Dh48), with different concert screening across time zones.

For people in the UK and central Europe, the show is at 8pm BST (10pm Lebanon time and 11pm UAE time). In North, Central and South America, the performance is streamed at 6pm PDT or 9pm EDT. For Australia, New Zealand and Asia, the show can we viewed the following day at 8pm AEST, 10pm NZST or 7pm JST and KST.

Mika was born in Beirut before fleeing with his family to Paris in 1982 as a one-year-old because of the civil war. He said he was moved to help the city because it has seen too much pain and destruction over the years.

“After all the years of civil war, financial crisis and political upheaval, the news of the tragic explosion was unbelievable,” he said.

“Although far away, my heart broke for the families losing their homes, their livelihoods and their loved ones in this catastrophe, I wanted to do something to help in any small way I can.

"That is why I am staging a live-stream concert in aid of the people of the city. Beirut has been through so much and the resilience and strength the Lebanese people is undeniable.

"I have no doubt that the city will recover and the unique life of this magical city will resume once again. Beirut is the place of my birth, is part of me and will always be in my heart.”

Mika on his Arabic music dream project

While now a British citizen, Mika has never forgotten his roots. Throughout his 15-year career he has often spoken about the role his heritage plays in his work. Mika has performed sold-out concerts in Lebanon, including a 2010 appearance as part of the Baalbeck International Festival and a 2015 gig in Beirut.

In 2013, at the Mawazine Festival in Morocco, Mika said his dream project was to release an album of songs performed in English, Arabic and French. He said the concept was inspired by growing up among the Lebanese diaspora in Paris.

“I was surrounded by a people who spoke three languages in one sentence,” he said.

"As we all know, it is that whole, Franco, Arabic, Lebanese thing. I grew up listening to Arabic music in that context. I was listening to people like Fairuz and the purity of the likes of Umm Kulthum and all these other acts that I discovered. That made me realise how much of that clash of cultures has influenced my music."

Support from the music industry

Multiple people in the entertainment industry have helped Lebanon recently.

RnB singer The Weeknd, real name Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, has pledged $300,000 (Dh1.1 million) to relief funds helping the victims of the explosion.

The move was orchestrated by the Starboy singer's Lebanese-Canadian manager Wassim 'Sal' Slaiby. He and his wife Rima Fakih have been co-ordinating an entertainment industry response to the dire situation.

Heeding the couple's call, so far, is the events company Live Nation, which gave $50,000 to relief efforts.

German DJ Habibi Funk also released a charity compilation album, Solidarity with Beirut, to raise funds for the Lebanese Red Cross.