Stevie Wonder tells audience at London concert 'black lives matter'

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Singer urged 65,000-strong crowd in Hyde Park to choose ‘love over hate’ after week of violence in the US

Stevie Wonder tells audience at London concert 'black lives matter'
Stevie Wonder performs live on in Hyde Park. Photograph: Simone Joyner/Getty Images

Stevie Wonder urged fans to choose “love over hate” as he performed in London at the end of a week that saw the US rocked by deadly race-related violence.

The singer opened his set at the British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park with a message for the 65,000-strong audience to live in hope “in this horrible time we’re living in”.

“I encourage you to choose love over hate. It’s just that simple. Choose love over hate, right over wrong, kind over meanness. Hope over no hope at all,” he told the crowd.

The gig celebrated his 1976 Grammy-winning album Songs In The Key Of Life, with the star telling fans he was glad it still held significance today.

But the sentiment was tinged with sadness, as he added: “The songs and the words that we talk about, those conditions still exist in the world and that hurts my heart.”

Wonder called on the fans to implore world leaders to “cut the bull … and fix it”, adding: “We were all made in God’s image. When you hate someone, you’re hating that image.

“If I’m blind and I can see it, you can see it too.”

Stevie Wonder tells audience at London concert 'black lives matter'
Stevie Wonder on stage in Hyde Park. Photograph: Richard Isaac/REX/Shutterstock

Wonder performed in London after a week when the US saw five police officers killed in apparent revenge for the deaths of two black men in police shootings.

There was an outpouring of anger across America in the wake of the death of Alton Sterling, 37, who was shot dead by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Tuesday.

The following day tensions rose further still with the killing of 32-year-old Philando Castile in Minnesota during a police traffic stop. His death was shown live on Facebook as his girlfriend filmed the incident on her phone.

On Thursday evening Micah Johnson, 25, opened fire on officers monitoring a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, killing five and injuring seven more.

Wonder said: “All life does matter, but the reason that I say black lives matter is because we are the original people of this world. So in essence, everyone here has some black in you. You’ve all got some soul in you so stop denying your culture.”

He added his voice to a growing list of global artists who have spoken out in protest at the use of deadly force by police in the US, most often involving the shooting of young black men.

Before the Dallas shootings on Thursday, singer Beyonce paused a Glasgow concert to hold a minute’s silence for the two men and “countless others” killed by police in the US.

On Saturday hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Brixton, south London, in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

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