Alicia Keys’ Black Ball raises $3m for HIV/AIDS kids in India

New York: Grammy award winning singer, pianist and actress Alicia Keys’ annual Black Ball benefit concert in New York raised more than $3 million for children in India and Africa who are affected by AIDS.

The event honoured the charity’s commitment to India, featuring videos of Indian children battling HIV and sometimes being cruelly kicked out of their homes. Some of the videos were filmed at an orphan care centre in Jalore in Rajasthan which is supported by Keys’ charity Keep A Child Alive.

“We all deserve a chance at life,” Keys told a bank of reporters on the red carpet as they buzzed around her like flies.

Grammy award winner Alicia Keys with husband and record producer Swizz Beatz at the Black Ball in New York. Courtesy: Keep A Child Alive

Keys co-founded Keep A Child Alive in 2003 soon after she shot to stardom with her debut album, “Songs in A Minor.” It sold over 12 million copies. Keys has continued to be relentlessly successful, picking up 12 Grammy Awards over four albums.

While talking about the charity, Keys said, “I’ve learned that a small group can do a lot.”

True, especially when that “small group” is a collection of famous friends. Keys tapped Usher,, Jay Sean, sitar maestro Ravi Shankar’s daughter Norah Jones and Bon Jovi lead guitarist Richie Sambora to join her onstage last week at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

They sang songs by former Beatle George Harrison, who was saluted on the 40th anniversary of the Concert for Bangladesh, the first rock music superstar benefit concert. Harrison’s widow, Olivia Harrison, said she would make a pledge to Keys’ Keep A Child Alive charity.

Keys arrived at the event wearing 18-carat gold Fred Leighton bracelets, which she took off and put up for auction. Fred Leighton is now planning to make a range of bracelets like the ones Alicia wore and auctioned, with 30 percent of the proceeds going to Keep a Child Alive. The auction part of the event raised $401,500. Overall, the fundraising event involving dinner, auctions and live acts raised $3 million.

A dinner party with Edward Norton and Naomi Watts went for $25,000. A trip to Paris Fashion Week to see shows by Givenchy were among the most popular lots and sold for $15,000. Some spirited bidding saw a lifetime membership to all Donald Trump golf properties go for $180,000.

“The funds raised from the event will fund our sites in India and Africa,” Louise O’Shea, spokesperson of Keep A Child Alive, told Firstpost.

The New York fund raiser for Indian and African kids drew celebrities like Serena Williams, David Arquette, Queen Latifah, Tyra Banks, Keys’ husband, rapper-producer Swizz Beatz and designer Michael Kors.

According to UNICEF India, there are 2,20,000 children infected by HIV/AIDS in India. It is estimated that every year 55,000 to 60,000 children are born to mothers who are HIV positive.