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Charity In EDM: Thank You Festival and Tiesto Interview

Last week one of the most wonderful and unique partnerships in the the electronic music industry took place at Merriweather Post Pavillion. The Global Poverty Project partnered with some of the biggest artists on the scene to create a day of awareness and great music. EDM Sauce was lucky enough to attend the event and catch up with GPP CEO Hugh Evans as well as Tiesto.

Alvin Risk kicked off the music of the day as the crowd continued to flood in from the entrances. It was an all ages event so the crowd was diverse from families, to high schoolers to the more usual 18 and up crowd that frequents EDM events. There was a huge buzz of excitement as the sun started to set and energy continued to build. Cedric Gervais took the stage shortly after Alvin's set wrapped up and played his myriad of Lana Del Ray remixes and the crowd responded with enthusiasm and sing alongs.

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As Cedric continued his set, one of the more brilliant things struck me about Thank You Festival. This was not just a fundraiser…in addition to making a whole ton of money for a good cause, it was an awareness raiser. EDM is the perfect bridge to get millennials involved in charity work; an idea that Global Poverty Project CEO Hugh Evans, developed with the charity's ambassador, Princess Madeleine of Sweden.

Hugh Evans: That [EDM involvement] was princess Madeleine's idea. What happened was she came to visit us two years ago and told us she had been working with Tiesto for quite some time now. She then introduced us to Andrew [Tiesto's Manager] as well as Paul Morris of AM Only and we said lets build something together that could be really special. I really believe that EDM has a unique power to it, it enables people to express themselves in a really free way. We saw this the other week at Tijs' album launch in NYC.

EDM Sauce: We were actually there! It was incredible.

Hugh Evans: Well than you could see the power there. We see this partnership as something in the long term to build a lasting movement for change.

After Cedric finished up whipping the crowd into a euphoric frenzy the girls of Krewella took to the decks to show that they are more than capable to throw down an astonishing set even when their group member and resident DJ, Rain Man, is not with them. Krewella's previous involvement with charitable causes made them an obvious pick for Thank You Festival. Their ability to really get a party started did not hurt either. They played a genre diverse set that kept the crowd moving as the day transitioned fully into night.

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Hugh Evans has been working with the Global Poverty Project from the very beginning and has seen it grow into something that even he had no expectations of. The GPP now improves and saves millions of lives from hunger each year through its fundraisers and outreach programs. When chatting with him about his involvement the topic of when did he know that the GPP was becoming larger than life came up, and it sounds like a truly special moment indeed.

Huge Evans: It was probably about 3 years ago. 4 years ago my wife and I moved to New York and had an image of putting on this concert called the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park. I have to say that it was not an easy journey, it was actually quite hard. As nobody had done a concert on the great lawn since Simon and Garfunkel or Bon Jovi in the 90's. Everyone said we should do it, but nobody really believed in it. But we met with the Mayor's Office, Parks Department and then the Foo Fighters agreed to perform for free, as well as The Black Keys, Neil Young and Band of Horses. We realized that we secured 1.3 Billion dollars in new commitments in that first year, and I thought this was potentially the moment when we could take the movement to scale.

Above & Beyond took the stage next and played an emotional set that was complete with their signature messages. Paavo oriented the messages towards the cause that everyone was their to support and reminded us that ‘We we work together, the sky is not the limit' and that ‘Every child deserves air for life'. Their set was shorter than usual so Tony and Paavo stuck to the hits and put together an hour of music that was both beautiful and focused.

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After Above & Beyond left the stage to a sea of confetti, Tiesto took the stage to end the night. It was interesting how Tiesto got involved with the Global Poverty Project, but again we have the Princess of Sweden to thank. Tiesto has always been an active member with several charities like ‘Dance for Life' and the (RED) campaign.

Tiesto: Well I worked with the childhood side of the fighting poverty before while in Sweden, but then Princess Madeleine came to see me and asked me if I would like to get more involved. After that we went to a charity dinner and I was really impressed with their cause. I always wanted to give something back and really feel connected to a cause, and I feel very connected to this, so that is how it all came together!

Tiesto played a set full of new music as the crowd dialed up their excitement to 150%. The legend played both classics like ‘Silence' and ‘Adagio for Strings' as well as several of his more recent hits from his incredible A Town Called Paradise album. The night wrapped up with a message from the GPP thanking everyone for their attendance and a reminder that when we all work together, we can make incredible strides in correcting problems like global poverty.

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Thank You Festival attendees called upon Dr. Raj Shah, the Administrator of USAID to increase poverty aid. And in response Dr. Shah committed on stage to realign $2.9 billion to end preventable child deaths, $40 million in 2014 for the Global Partnership for Education, and he committed to working with Congress to allocate an additional $50 million in 2015 to the Global Partnership for Education This funding will help to save the lives of more than 500,000 children, and help get 29 million children into school. Thank You Festival was a tremendous success and a very special night, and best of all this is just the beginning.

Tiesto: Yes, we already have one planned for Europe and will be bringing Thank You Festival all over the world in the coming years.

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[Special thanks to: Merriweather Post Pavillion, Sunshine Sachs, Global Poverty Project, AM Only, and Tiesto]

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