By Eileen Tilson
Did you know that “Coca-Cola” is the second most recognized word in the world? A company whose success is a direct result of their southern hospitality, gave the city of Atlanta and its Coca-Cola employees a most gracious “thank-you” last Saturday, by throwing Coke’s 125th birthday party in Centennial Olympic Park. Hosted by Atlanta’s own Ryan Seacrest, a 212-foot rotating stage was constructed for performances by: K’Naan, Natasha Bedingfield, Ne-Yo and “American Idol” Season One winner, Kelly Clarkson. With a crowd of over 15,000 people and media from around the world, Coca-Cola’s 125th Anniversary Celebration Concert was streamed online as a live “thank you” to people around the world.
The event opened with a massive singalong to the classic jingle “ I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke,” followed by an energetic performance by K’Naan, including “Wavin’ Flag” the Coca-Cola anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup that became a worldwide hit.
Ryan Seacrest walked onto the stage to a “sea” of applause and screams, and commented on how great it was to be back in his home town, before bringing out his mom, who was also celebrating her birthday. CEO of Coca-Cola, Muhtar Kent, gave a gracious speech thanking the employees of Coke for the past 125 years, noting the innovation of the company. Gov. Nathan Deal and Mayor Kashim Reed, also in attendance, spoke to the crowd about how Coca-Cola’s global success is a source of pride for Georgia, and awarded Kent for their contributions to the city and state.
Atlanta Music Guide was lucky enough to catch up with British pop singer-songwriter sensation, Natasha Bedingfield at Coke’s 125th anniversary bash at Centennial Park this weekend. Bedingfield broke into the music scene in the early ’90s with catchy hits like Unwritten and Gotta Get Thru This that brought a unique blend of upbeat pop tunes with a distinct R&B feel – due primarily to her rock-gospel upbringing in London. In our exclusive post-performance chat, Bedingfield told AMG that she was thrilled to be involved in the Coke event, saying that she was immediately interested in performing at the concert because of Coke’s long-running relationship and involvement in the music industry, and their efforts to unite the world.
Since her debut, Bedingfield has enjoyed international acclaim – becoming a hugely successful recording artists in the U.K. as well as the states. In addition to her music ventures, she has also established herself as a prominent activist and philanthropist for human rights. Bedingfield attributes her desire to help others to her mother, Molly Bedingfield, and says that when she’s not making and playing music, her human rights commitments are her number one priority. In 2006, Bedingfield became heavily involved in Global Angels, the children’s advocacy organization found by her mother and has since become a global ambassador and spokesperson for the charity. Bedingfrield is also involved in the (RED) campaign, an effort to raise awareness and funds for HIV/AIDS, and Stop the Traffik, an international initiative to end human trafficking.
Following up her Winter 2010 release Strip Me, Bedingfield is gearing up for a whirl-wind 29-day summer tour, appropriately called Less Is More. Bedingfield will be returning to Atlanta on July 11 at Center Stage – no doubt showcasing her upcoming single, Weightless.
“Here’s celebrating the next 125 years,” declared Kent, as Gov. Deal, Mayor Reed and Seacrest, toasted with the classic aluminum bottles. There was a great sense of pride in Centennial Park on Saturday not just for the employees of Coca-Cola, but for the entire state. The diversity of the Coca-Cola emblem resonated throughout the park reminding all who participated that Coke is not just a soda, but a brand that represents the uniting of all peoples.