The one-day festival, on September 28 at New York’s Central Park, is held in efforts to end extreme poverty worldwide — so it’s a slightly different cause than what Wonder championed during his headlining set. Still, as the enduring musician explained why he performs “Imagine,” he showed why his protest cover song was relevant.
“[I]t brings such emotions to my heart — most of all, to know that we lost this man because of a gun and because we don’t have laws dealing strong enough with mental illness, we lost a great man,” Wonder said. He was referring to Lennon, but he also brought to mind how he refused to perform at “stand your ground” states, after George Zimmerman was acquitted for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
But the musical icon also realized why 60,000 people had come to see him that night. So he launched into his terrific cover of “Imagine,” a rendition that starts off faithful but then launches into a playful harmonica solo that riffs off Lennon’s melody. Watch up top.