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Annie's Sweet Dreams Of New Purpose In Life


Annie's Sweet Dreams Of New Purpose In Life

Julia Horton

HER voice captivated millions of people around the world when she sang at the historic Live8 concerts in Edinburgh and London.


Annie Lennox

Nine months on, Annie Lennox has revealed that the momentous event has inspired her to put her musical career to one side - and become a full-time anti-poverty activist.

The legendary Scots singer told of her new-found conviction in her first return to Edinburgh since the momentous Make Poverty History gig at Murrayfield last July.

She took time out from helping Oxfam launch the latest stage of its anti-poverty campaign to tell the Evening News how last summer's events had changed her life.

She said: "I have one more album on my contract, which I have to do, but I'm champing at the bit to do more activist work.

"All the time [since Live8] people are contacting me and asking me to do things. I think I have a voice for other women, for my sisters [in countries like Africa] who do not have access to proper healthcare, or education.

"I want to become an activist. This is really my dream coming true."

Lennox's return to the Capital this week marks one of the first steps towards her goal. Last night, she helped launch Oxfam's "I'm In" campaign, urging Scots to follow her in putting their name to a massive anti-poverty petition.

Her enthusiasm for spending a cold night on the charity campaign trail in the Capital shows how the singer's priorities are changing as she approaches her 52nd birthday.

The Aberdonian's impassioned warning to the G8 leaders that they would "do nothing at their peril" inspired many who watched her Murrayfield performance.

But Lennox revealed that the Edinburgh concert and the events that surrounded it had also had a profound effect on her.

"I was going past Murrayfield when I arrived back in Edinburgh today and I remembered what a spectacle Live8 was," she said.

"Millions of people walking in the streets, nobody minding that the rain was coming down.

"A quarter of a million people marched in Edinburgh for the Make Poverty History rally.

"Some commitments were made [by the G8 leaders], and we will have to see whether they are met, but it is totally unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of children in Africa are dying of Aids.

"I have seen the devastating effects of HIV and Aids in South Africa. If I could take the whole population of Edinburgh to Africa to see these people's suffering with their own eyes none of them would come back and not want to do something about it. We have to do more."

Explaining where her own passion for the cause comes from, she added: "I come from a working class family. My father and my grandfather worked in the shipyards and they were very politically active.

"They were aware of the injustices and how hard life is for working people to fight poverty.

"From my own perspective Live8 was the greatest platform to voice that activism. I identify with people who struggle. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth.

"If I had not had an education I would not be sitting here. But we take education for granted in this country. Girls in Africa might go to primary school, but that's it. I've seen schools in Africa where the pupils cannot afford textbooks, the conditions there are like going back 150 years.

"It's a kind of tragedy that it comes down to a collection of artists, of singers, to say something.

"But the number of people who turned out for Make Poverty History and Live8 showed that people do want to get involved.

"Eighty-seven per cent of the population was aware of Live8. We want to utilise modern technology to keep those people involved. If we walk away now it will not get better. We have to follow through. We are all horrified by genocide and the Holocaust in World War Two but it is happening right now.

"If you stand on any street in any village or town in Africa more than one in five people you can see will either be infected by or affected by the virus.

"If Aids was happening in this country at the level it is happening in Africa we would not stand for it. It would be total crisis.

"We can get anti-retroviral drugs to these people. It can be changed, we can change this."

It was after witnessing Lennox's performance at Live8 that Oxfam asked her to support the "I'm In" campaign, including voicing a series of TV advertisements which have been broadcast in recent months. The singer, who now lives in London with her daughters, shot to fame in the Eighties and Nineties as part of hit group the Eurythmics, with hits including Thorn in my Side and Who's That Girl.

She recently reformed the band with former musical partner Dave Stewart.

Name in lights shows 'I'm In' for battle

ANNIE LENNOX officially launched Oxfam's "I'm In" campaign last night, by sending her name to Europe's first interactive neon light display in Edinburgh.

The Eurythmics star saw her name projected on to the side of the Royal Scottish Academy on The Mound.

The Scots singer also urged others to join the fight against poverty by texting a special number set up by the charity and seeing their name appear in spectacular neon lights.

Organisers hope as many as one million people will add their name to the campaign, which runs until April 5.

And Lennox, who performed in last year's Live8 concert at Murrayfield, called on Edinburgh to continue to support the fight against poverty by twinning itself with a poor city in Africa or India.

She said: "Edinburgh is such a fantastically cultured and historical city where people seem to have a real social conscience and want to be part of a change.

"People want to come to Edinburgh and everyone around the world knows about the city. What a great thing it would be to team Edinburgh up with a poverty-stricken city to help promote awareness of poverty."

People who text their name to 87099 - at the standard text message cost - see their name appear on the side of the building between four and 30 minutes later, depending on how much of a backlog of names there are.

Those who text the number are contacted by Oxfam to let them know of ways that they can help defeat poverty.

Lennox added: "I'm a big fan of mobile phones and I know both my teenage daughters are constantly texting their friends.

"We can use modern technology like this to turn that into a force for change."

One of the first names to appear after Lennox's last night was the Lord Provost, Lesley Hinds, who yesterday announced her support of the campaign.

Adrian Lovett, campaigns director of Oxfam, said: "This was the city where half a million people marched on July 2. It is the city that still holds the energy of the Make Poverty History campaign. It was so exciting to get this idea welcomed by the local authorities of Edinburgh.

"I hope that there will be more events like this in the city to help our campaign in the future. The Lord Provost has been very keen already to make Edinburgh at the centre of the battle against poverty."


ENDS

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