Pavarotti was an Italian operatic tenor who over the course of his extensive career performed with the world’s most renowned and acclaimed artists. His enormous talent and generosity of heart soon made him a leading figure in the industry and one of the most beloved tenors of all time.
From 1992 to 2003 he hosted a series of concerts called Pavarotti & Friends in his city of origin, Modena. During these shows he used to perform with internationally recognised artists, and the proceeds from each year always went to a number of humanitarian causes. In 2002 he invited on stage James Brown to sing It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.
The song was recorded and released in 1966, written by James Brown himself and Betty Jean Newsome. During this famous duet, the music was played by a whole orchestra, Brown started by singing the first verse, while Pavarotti continued with an adaptation of the chorus in Italian. Also, for this specific performance, Brown changed some of the lyrics, in order to turn those lines into a manifesto of love, rather than dominance.
A perfect example of how soul music and opera can merge to create a magnificent event that will leave the audience utterly mesmerised. Indeed, despite the difference in styles, the two musical geniuses gave a bone-chilling performance. Twenty years after the event, people are constantly coming back to the clip of this epic collaboration. In fact, the video has approximately 65 million views on YouTube.
The youngest regret not having had the chance to see the two artists perform live, while those who were able to do so recall that moment with nostalgia, saying how lucky they were.
Some videos from these fundraising concerts have been uploaded to Pavarotti's dedicated YouTube channel, and are part of a playlist named ‘Best of Pavarotti & Friends’. The same channel also features clips from his concert in Central Park, New York, and his discography. A similar archive can be found on James Brown’s channel, which in addition includes some interviews with the artist.
As always, the Internet is a great resource, and it is wonderful nonetheless to have such performances available for free and within the reach of all of us.