Grammy-winning musician Carlos Santana, at a press conference in Beverly Hills on June 5, called for people around the world to help create a 'spiritual virus' of compassion and commitment in the global fight against AIDS. To help in that task, Santana pledged to donate the money from the ticket sales for his U.S. and Canada summer concert tour to the Artists for a New South Africa's newly created Amandla AIDS Fund. 'This is a tremendous gesture of love from us to all of you,' he said. 'We invite you to create a masterpiece of joy on this planet.'
Santana and his wife, Deborah, announced that they will donate the net proceeds from Santana's 23-city Shaman Tour to the AIDS organization, hoping to raise between $2.5 million and $3 million. The tour began June 13 and runs through July 14, and each concert venue has tables with information about the Amandla Fund and HIV prevention materials. Artists for a New South Africa members, including Gloria Reuben of ER, film star Danny Glover, and musician Meshell Ndegeocello, also will speak at several of the performances.
Amandla Fund officials, including South African archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, who will serve as the fund's honorary cochair, said at the press conference that money raised by the Santanas will support South African programs providing anti-HIV medications and also fund care for children orphaned by AIDS. Advocacy, prevention, education, and destigmatization efforts will be financed as well by the fund, which derives its name from the words for strength and power in Zulu and several other African languages.
Other celebrities speaking at the press conference included Emmy winner Alfre Woodard, CCH Pounder of the FX series The Shield, Blair Underwood of L.A. Law, and Alexandra Paul of Baywatch'all of whom are Artists for a New South Africa members. Paul praised the Santanas for their work and reiterated the importance of fighting AIDS in South Africa, home to nearly 5 million HIV-positive people, more than any other country in the world. But she also implored President Bush to adequately fund HIV prevention and treatment programs in the United States and also not ignore U.S. groups hit hard by HIV, including minorities and gay men.
Paul also relayed the group's request that Bush allow generic versions of patented anti-HIV medications to be sold in poor nations and to lift requirements from the recently approved $15 billion international AIDS bill that call for one third of the money to be spent on abstinence programs. 'AIDS is a fire burning out of control,' she said. 'Now is not the time to impose your moral values on other nations.'