Johannesburg - The 2010 FIFA World Cup is set to kick-off in colorful, energetic, distinctly African musical fashion with a dynamic Opening Ceremony which is expected to be watched live by hundreds of millions of viewers in 215 countries.
The 30-minute ceremony, with its cast of 1 581 world-class artists, dancers, musicians and performers, will start at Johannesburg's iconic Soccer City stadium at 2pm on 11 June 2010, ahead of the historic first African FIFA World Cup's opening match between hosts South Africa and Mexico at 4pm.
Multiple Grammy Award winner, R Kelly, will sing the ceremony's showpiece song, 'Sign of a Victory' with South Africa's Soweto Spiritual Singers, the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee (OC) confirmed on Wednesday.
The ceremony will reflect Africa's proud cultural heritage, and also showcase the significant infrastructural and technological progress the continent has made. It will include Africa's rich artistic talent, established and emerging, as well as some exciting new performers.
The rest of the world-class line-up for the Opening Ceremony features celebrated South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, charismatic Nigerian star Femi Kuti, who will perform the famous 'Bang, Bang, Bang' track, Algerian Afro-pop artist Khaled, legendary Ghanaian band Osibisa, as well as top-class South African artists Thandiswa Mazwai, Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP), TKZee and vocalist Timothy Moloi.
The Opening Ceremony will also feature well-known South African praise singer and poet, Zolani Mkhiva, as well as the music of Letta Mbulu and Chicco.
The Field Band Foundation, an innovative and exciting organization with a track for youth development through music and dance among disadvantaged communities, will also participate in the ceremony.
The theme of the ceremony is "Welcoming the World Home" and is produced for the OC by the VWV TILL DAWN Consortium, comprising the VWV Group and Till Dawn Entertainment.
The consortium, which successfully staged the opening and closing ceremonies of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009, will also produce the tournament's closing ceremony on 11 July.
"The Opening Ceremony features a great line-up of South African and African giants of the music and entertainment industry and will showcase to a worldwide audience of millions the talent, creativity, technology and welcoming spirit and hospitality of the African continent. It will undoubtedly be a real African celebration of joy, life and energy," said Dr Danny Jordaan, the OC's Chief Executive Officer.
"I believe the Opening Ceremony is going to be a super showpiece of the very best of African arts, culture, song and dance. There will be a full representation of South African artists and artists from Africa, especially from the participating six-pack nations representing Africa at the tournament," said South Africa's Minister of Arts and Culture, Lulu Xingwana, whose department played a major role in securing the artists for the Opening Ceremony and sourcing particularly the artists from the African continent.
For a very humble R Kelly, participating in the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup "is the biggest thing I've ever been involved with".
"I've heard so many great stories about Africa. To be here in this way, performing at the World Cup, there's just no words for this. Musically, this is my World Cup. Any time you get the chance to be part of something this big and historical, it's definitely very special," said Kelly.
Gates to the Soccer City Stadium open at 10am this Friday and the Organising Committee encourages fans to be in their seats by at least 1pm in order not to miss the world-class Opening Ceremony and eagerly-anticipated Opening Match thereafter.