On November 7, 2017, The Elton John AIDS Foundation commemorated its 25th year and used the auspicious occasion to honor its founder, Sir Elton John. The foundation raised more than $4.3 million that evening. Those funds will go to support HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, supporting services, and advocacy programs across the United States, the Americas, and the Caribbean.
Elton's philanthropic endeavors and activism for human rights and the arts have inspired millions and made a positive difference in people's lives around the world. But, without a doubt, Elton's greatest contribution as a humanitarian is his 25-year commitment to building one of the most important institutions in the effort to end AIDS - the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Neil Patrick Harris hosted an evening of special tributes to John, whose work as a philanthropist and humanitarian have been an especially bright beacon for those suffering from HIV/AIDS around the world, inside the magnificent Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.
President Bill Clinton and New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo were among the dignitaries lauding John's and his foundation's incredible years of service.
Aretha Franklin was the special musical guest of the evening. Franklin has recently been discussing her retirement plan, which could go into effect at the end of 2017, possibly making her appearance at the EJAF Fall Gala one of her final grand performances. We spoke with music industry legend Clive Davis about Franklin's possible departure from the stage and he told us, unequivocally, that "Aretha Franklin will never retire." We can only hope Davis is right.
Also, the cast of "The Lion King the Musical," with guest Heather Headley, performed. "The Lion King the Musical" recently had an anniversary of its own, celebrating 20 years on Broadway on November 5, 2017. We spoke with the director of the show, Julie Taymor, and she spoke of the pride she has in the show and its design, and how she's not at all surprised by its lasting popularity. "It's a timeless story," she told us. Taymor also spoke of her excitement about the recent casting announcement of the upcoming live action film of "The Lion King."
Sir Elton John surprised the crowd at the 20th anniversary show with a special performance of "Circle of Life."
Everyone at the gala was eager to discuss their admiration of Sir Elton John, both for his artistic and altruistic contributions.
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