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5 Amazing Performances That Honored the Activists & Leaders of 2020 at Global Citizen Prize

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The UN’s 17 Global Goals are a series of targets that work in tandem with each other to build a better world, end poverty, and protect the planet. The annual Global Citizen Prize award ceremony honors the people who have made it their life’s work to advance those goals — and we celebrate with an evening of music and performance. Join the movement by taking action here to help achieve the Global Goals, and tune into watch the Global Citizen Prize show as it’s broadcast around the world. 

This year’s Global Citizen Prize ceremony was a little different. Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic still at large there couldn’t be a big event with an in-person audience.

Instead, we hosted an evening of celebratory interviews and performances filmed in a socially-distanced way in a studio for a show that premiered on NBC on Dec. 19, and is being broadcast and streamed all over the world from Dec. 19. Find out more about how to watch, or re-watch, from where you are here.

It’s been a hugely difficult year, and one that, tragically, looks set to push back progress on the United Nations’ Global Goals and the mission to end extreme poverty. For the first time in 20 years, global poverty rates are increasing — with the World Bank estimating that 150 million people will be pushed into poverty this year.

But 2020 has also highlighted how important it is for people, governments, and organizations around the world to work together to overcome the challenges we face. And it has shown us that those collaborative efforts do indeed drive positive change.

We’ve seen historic joint efforts to develop and fund COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, for example, while numerous fundraising and volunteering initiatives have helped support the most vulnerable people in our communities. 

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So we couldn’t go without a Global Citizen Prize in 2020. If anything this year has shown us it’s never been more important to recognize the people who make a difference and show true leadership in challenging times.

To help us do that, artists joined us to perform during the Global Citizen Prize ceremony. And whether it’s Global Citizen Ambassador Common, who runs two social justice nonprofits, or Carrie Underwood, who has spent millions of dollars supporting charitable initiatives in her hometown, they are all artists who represent the Global Citizen spirit.

Gwen Stefani wows with sparkles and ska

Gwen Stefani took to the stage in an awesome sparkly silver ensemble to perform a brand new single that sees her return to her ska-pop roots — the aptly named “Let Me Re-Introduce Myself”.

The song, which will feature in an upcoming studio album, is all about Stefani reminiscing on her life and saying “I’m still me”, and has a reggae beat that harks back to the band she founded as teenager, No Doubt. The 1990s icons played a reunion gig at Global Citizen Festival in 2014, so it feels like a Global Citizen stage is the perfect place for a Stefani “re-introduction” — and we are so here for it! 

Stefani kicked the show off the right way with the feel-good tune, complete with backing dancers and a brass band to get us in the mood for the evening of music and celebrating activism. 

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Alessia Cara sang with Sesame Street and it was the sweetest thing ever

After comedian and Last Week Tonight host John Oliver had a chat with Sesame Street’s Elmo about the unprecedented year we’ve all been having, he admitted it would be better for everyone if he didn’t join in with singing a song.

So instead, Alessia Cara came on screen to perform her song “So Much Alike” with the Sesame Street gang — a tune she originally performed as part of a cameo on the show back in 2016.

And yes, it was very cute! The song is all about the things all humans have in common, something that everyone has been reminded of and come to appreciate this year. 

Tori Kelly and JoJo performed the duet of our dreams

The two singers and friends performed the Aretha Franklin classic “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” bathed in golden light and dressed in shimmery gold outfits. And yes, it was as magical as it sounds.

Both JoJo and Kelly have performed at Global Citizen events before. In March, JoJo treated viewers stuck at home during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to a livestream of her hits and covers for our Together at Home series; while Kelly performed an amazing set on stage in Central Park for the Global Citizen Festival back in 2015. 

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The classic track is the perfect choice to show-off their beautiful harmonies and impressive vocal-runs. And if you want to hear more, their duet features on Global Citizen's album STAND UP, released Dec. 18, and executive produced by legendary musician and producer Raphael Saadiq. We could listen to these two sing for hours! 

Common & John Legend performed a moving rendition of “Glory” in honor of Black Lives Matter

The Global Citizen Prize for Activism in 2020 has gone to the Black Lives Matter movement, represented by the Co-Founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi. The award is in recognition of the phenomenal impact the movement has had this year in raising awareness and combating anti-Black racism.

After introducing the award, it could not be more fitting then for host John Legend to be joined by Common to perform the powerful liberation song, “Glory”. 

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The song, which combines Legend’s piano and vocals with Common’s rap — alongside the words of the BLM co-founders — is the theme song for the 2014 epic Selma, a movie by Ava Duvernay that tells the story of the 1960s American civil rights movement in Alabama and beyond. 

Before singing, Legend described Black Lives Matter as a movement that has come to define a generation and one that “continues the legacy of civil rights giants who have come before us”. 

Carrie Underwood & John Legend performed their heart-warming duet “Hallelujah” to close out the evening 

Before accompanying Carrie Underwood on the piano, Legend said their song choice “Hallelujah” was in “honor of better days to come”.

It’s a sentiment that feels exactly right with this wonderfully uplifting performance of a track that features in Underwood’s Christmas album, My Gift.

After the year the world has had in 2020, ending with the first vaccines against COVID-19 being administered this December, it does feel like there is, finally, a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. And that is truly something to celebrate. 


Join Global Citizen in December 2020 to celebrate the leaders among us who have stepped up against a backdrop of unprecedented global challenges to take action for the world we want — a world that is fair, just, and equal.

The broadcast and digitally streamed award ceremony will also feature inspirational stories of human strength and unforgettable performances that will bring together artists, activists, and global leaders to remind each of us that, together, we will come out of this year stronger. Find out more about the Global Citizen Prize and how to watch here

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