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Celebrities Changing the World for HIV-Positive People

Celebrities Changing the World for HIV-Positive People


Everyone from Mary J. Blige to Madonna, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, and Kanye West have helped Lifebeat educate teens and young adults about HIV over the last 21 years. Here's our walk down memory lane.

Lifebeat_0Aerosmith presenting Lifebeat with a $100,000 donation.

Since 1992, Lifebeat has been a leader in educating American's youth about HIV and AIDS prevention, doing so with huge support from the music industry and Hollywood heavyweights. Now, after 21 years, they are still going strong and making a huge difference. By mobilizing the music industry's biggest talents, they've been able to spread awareness through broadcast, print, social and digital media, and live concerts across the United States, raising millions of dollars for the cause along the way.

This year alone they've partnered with dozens of celebs: Khloe Kardashian and Snoop Lion (who star in their latest PSA), Salt-N-Pepa (who released snowboards adorned with their 1990s image and gave proceeds to Lifebeat), Latin superstar Juanes and hip hop producer Swizz Beatz (who did a PSA for national HIV testing day). The group showed up at the MTV Video Music Awards and gave out condoms at the Electric Daisy Festival. And some of the biggest name musicians have been involved with the group over the years, including Mary J. Blige, Ke$ha, Notorious B.I.G., Maroon 5, Dave Matthews, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Bon Jovi, Wynonna Judd, John Legend, and the Wu-Tang Clan.

From the beginning, Lifebeat has been a fundraising pioneer as one of the first organizations to raise money for charity through ticket surcharges. In doing so, they have raised over a million dollars simply by generating 25 cents per ticket from some of the country's most successful concerts.

MTV was an early supporter of AIDS prevention and together with Lifebeat, they've organized concerts to support the cause by not only entertaining audience viewers, but educating them as well with projects like the Arches of Hope.

Lifebeat president Gary "Baba Booey" Dell'Abate (producer of the Howard Stern Showtold us how he got involved earlier this year: "I was actively searching for an organization after my brother died. There were many big ones out there that I didn't think needed my help. Lifebeat was small [at the time] and I thought I could really make a difference with them."

Under Dell'Abate's leadership, Lifebeat is now trying to educate a new generation, especially as infection rates among young adults between the ages of 13 - 29 are escalating.

"I hope we can live in a world where, through medicine and education, the numbers [of infections] become minuscule. I have my fingers crossed. That and some hard work might do it," says Dell'Abate.

One ofLifebeat's signature programs is Tour Outreach, a program that provides free condoms and educational literature about HIV at concert venues. Last year they were on six national tours including Madonna, Coldplay, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller, Childish Gamino, and Lil’ Kim, covering 105 cities nationwide, and they were on site at other events including South by Southwest, the BET Awards, and the International AIDS Conference.

Hearts & Voices is a one-of-a kind program in which some of the music industry's biggest artists perform for HIV-positive people, who often can't go to live music events, at medical facilities like hospitals, residential facilities, and day treatment centersin New York and Washington, D.C. They average about 250 concerts a year, and some of the musicians who've performed include Destiny’s Child, LL Cool J, Jewel, Jon Secada, and Floetry. 

In honor of Lifebeat's 21 years of raising awareness about HIV among teens and young adults (and probably some tweens, too), we look back at some of the group's highlights.

Check out the most recent video from Snoop Lion and reality TV stalwarts Khloe Kardashian and Vinny Guadagnino, in which the latter  Jersey Shore star extols viewers that "if you want to get funky, wrap your monkey." Wise words.

Click the next pages to take a stroll down memory lane.


1992: Lifebeat is formed after Bov Cavioano, a respected music manager, reveals that he has AIDS in a Billboard magazine editorial in April 1992. Caviano challenged the music industry to take action, and several high-level executives heed his call.

Lifebeat_21992: Lifebeat launches at Concert for Life in New York City with Cyndi Lauper and Yoko Ono.


Lifebeat’s signature Tour Outreach program begins at a Concrete Blonde concert. Now Lifebeat distributes free educational materials and condoms to thousands of at-risk youth at concerts, music festivals, and clubs nationwide. 

1994 - 1997: Launch of The Beat Goes On Concert Series, televised on VH1. Featuring artists like Seal, Melissa Etheridge,  K.D. Lang, Sarah McLachlan, Queen Latifah, Ricky Lake and Veronica Webb, the series was able to educate the country on the impact of HIV/AIDS through music and artistry.


1995: Vintage Rosie and Madonna at The Beat Goes On.

1995: UrbanAID launches. Lifebeat responds to Eazy E’s announcement that he was dying of AIDS by hosting a fundraising concert in New York with 20,000 attendees who were given free condoms and brochures about HIV. The concert was simulcast on BET and MTV, reaching over 100 million people with their HIV/AIDS awareness message. Performers included, Mary J. Blige, Notorious B.I.G., Puff Daddy, Jodeci, Brandy, Salt-N-Pepa, Wu Tang Clan, Naughty By Nature, and Queen Latifah.

Lifebeat_51995: Queen Latifah performing at UrbanAID I


1996: Lifebeat's trademark program Hearts & Voices launches. The program brings free concerts to people with HIV at AIDS treatment facilities. Over 250 performances are held annually with thousands of musical artists like Destiny's Child donating their time to the program.


1999: Beyonce gets a hug as Destiny's Child visits a pediatric AIDS facility for the Hearts & Voices program.


2000: LL Cool J signs an autograph at during his Hearts & Voices concert.


1997: Lifebeat's innovative fundraising program, Ticket Surcharges, is launched, generating 25 cents per concert ticket for AIDS awareness. Being one of the pioneers in the ticket surcharge arena, after just five years, the program raised over $500,000. In 2001, the Destiny's Child concert raised $125,000, while Ozzfest (with Ozzy Osbourne, above center) raised $100,000.


1998: For the first World AIDS Day, Lifebeat, Levis, and MTV organize the Music with a Message concert at the Beacon. This educational music program raised $450,000 for HIV programs and education. Performers included 'N Sync, Wyclef Jean, Destiny’s Child, 112, Monica, and Joey McIntyre.


2000: Pink performs at the third World AIDS Day concert.


2002: Russell Simmons and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs served as co-chairs for UrbanAID 2, featuring performances by Alicia Keys, Ashanti, Fat Joe, Ja Rule, Jay Z, Musiq, P Diddy, and The Roots. Broadcast on MTV and BET, the show was hosted by comedian Mike Epps and featured public service announcements and video vignettes by Talib Kweli, N.E.R.D., B2K, Russell and Kimora Simmons, and President Bill Clinton. Special awards were given to AIDS activists Maria Davis and Rosie Perez. 


2002: Rosie Perez accepting her award at UrbanAID 2.


2002: Lifebeat celebrated a decade of hard work for their tenth anniversary. By then the group had raised about $1 million annually, about $10 million since 1992, given $1.25 million in grants to HIV/AIDS organizations, $90,000 in grants to HIV-positive people in the music industry, over 1 million condoms and educational brochures given out, and over 2,500 Hearts & Voices performances. A benefit concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City — with Sugarcult, Pete Yorn (above), Jimmy Eat World, and the Hives — is thrown to celebrate. 


2004: Kanye West headlines the Hearts and Voices concert series. The artist showcase featured performances by Young Gunz, soul singers Rell, and Allen Anthony, Memphis Bleek, and Freeway.


2005: Hearts & Voices concert series launches two fundraising events: the release party for Tony Touch’s The ReggaeTon album (with performances by N.O.R.E., Zion & Lennox, and Nina Sky) and the Reggaeton Explosion (with Tego Calderon and Aventura), both at at Spirit NY.  Pictured above: Tego Calderon at Rivington House in New York. 


2007: Video Music Awards Fandemonium: A concert to benefit Lifebeat, featured Maroon 5 (with Adam Levine, above) and Robin Thicke at the House of Blues in Las Vegas with Questlove of The Roots DJing. 


2008: On Valentines Day, Borders gave customers a chance to give back, by matching the amount dollar-for-dollar with a donation to help fund Lifebeat's nationwide Youth HIV Prevention and Education programs. Glee's Idina Menzel, Suzanne Vega, Gary “Baba Booey” Dell’Abate (above) and the gang from The Howard Stern Show, Betty Buckley, and the casts of Legally Blonde and Forbidden Broadway: Rude Awakening all made special appearances in New York City's Borders stores as part of Love Beats AIDS. 

2011: LiveBeats 2. Funktastic concert event curated by BET’s Stephen Hill featuring Busta Rhymes, Ledisi, India Arie and EWF’s Verdine White at the Highline Ballroom, NYC.


2013:Burton Snowboards partners with Lifebeat on an exclusive line of women’s snowboards. The 2014 women’s Lip-Stick Restricted snowboard features iconic female hip-hop group and longtime Lifebeat supporters, Salt-N-Pepa. The boards will be available at select global retailers and in Burton Flagship stores this September and part of the proceeds go to HIV education and outreach.

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David Artavia