Music, Innovation, and Friendship: Artists and Entrepreneurs Support Japan's Reconstruction-Recovery and TOMODACHI
Founder of the Black Eyed Peas, will.i.am, together with U.S. Charge d'Affaires Kurt Tong
Dec 16 - Three-time Grammy Award winner will.i.am, founder of the Black Eyed Peas, joined musical legend Neil Young and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff at the U.S. Ambassador's Residence in Tokyo on Dec. 14 to express their support for Japan and for the TOMODACHI initiative.
Charge d'Affaires Kurt Tong hosted the event and welcomed the guests, including university students who participated in relief efforts after the March 11 disasters.
One of America's largest hip-hop icons, will.i.am returned to Japan for the first time since his visit to the country just one week before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. In his remarks to the assembled guests, will.i.am stated, "I'm blessed and proud to be here ... I wouldn't have missed it for the world to come to Japan to support my friends. To come here means a lot to the rest of the world, so they know that Japan is still the most inspirational, safest, kindest place on the planet."
Musical legend Neil Young, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, will.i.am, and Kurt Tong speak to the audience.
Entrepreneur Marc Benioff - whose company, Salesforce.com, has been described by Forbes Magazine as "the most innovative company in the world" - announced during the event that his company was on a march to create a presence in Japan with "1,000 employees and $1 billion in revenues," and that Salesforce.com was investing in new Japanese companies to help spur the recovery and reconstruction efforts.
Neil Young, the legendary writer of such songs as "Heart of Gold" and "Ohio," told the audience of his admiration for the Japanese people - particularly in the wake of the March 11 disasters - noting, "I'm amazed by the way the people act towards each other, the way they thank each other, the way they respect one another."
On Dec. 15, will.i.am participated in a TOMODACHI program in Sendai with university students who volunteered with relief efforts after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
In honor of the tsunami victims, will.i.am laid a bouquet of flowers on a memorial to the March 11 deceased during his tour of a heavily tsunami-damaged coastal town.
In the afternoon, 530 students gathered in Sendai for a lively Q&A session - on topics ranging from volunteerism to will.i.am's advice for overcoming personal challenges - and an impromptu musical performance. Lead singer Blaise Plant of Sendai-based pop band Monkey Majik, also joined will.i.am on stage for an acoustic performance.
One student commented: "I feel energized to keep volunteering thanks to seeing mega-stars themselves giving so much back to their communities."
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