George Michael performed in the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert on 11 June 1988 at the Wembley Stadium in London, along with 82 other artists. The pop-rock mega-concert was organized to support the call for the release of Mandela, the end of apartheid and the freedom of South Africa. It attracted a record-breaking world audience of 600 million people.
George performed three cover songs at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert:
- “Village Ghettoland” by Stevie Wonder
- “If You Were My Woman” by Gladys Knight
- “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye
He deliberately chose to perform songs originated by black artists to make a point about the 25-years of apartheid in South Africa.
Recognition from the South African Government
When George passed in 2016, South African Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa saluted and thanked George for supporting their cause of freedom. In a series of tweets, the Minister said George’s impact went beyond his good music into the causes he stood for, including his support on South Africa’s cause for freedom.
Here are the tweets of Minister Mthethwa:
We are also indebted to George Michael for supporting our cause for freedom and for playing at the Free Nelson Mandela Concert…
— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) December 26, 2016
Performance at the Tribute Concert
Below are videos of George’s performance at the Nelson Mandela Tribute Concert:
Read more about the concert here: Nelson Mandela dies: the story behind his 70th birthday concert
- Q Magazine Interview: “1988: George Michael” (January 1990)
- George Michael Interview in New Musical Express (NME, 28 June 1986)
- George Michael Controversy After Winning the Favorite Male R&B Award
- Paris Match Interview with George Michael (1988)
- Symphony Orchestra Tributes to George Michael