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Elton John, Lady Gaga join rainforest fundraiser

By David J. Prince

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Sting, Elton John, Lady Gaga and Dame Shirley Bassey will perform together at Carnegie Hall, as part of the semi-annual Rainforest Fund benefit concert on May 13.

The event will mark the 21st birthday of the charitable organization founded by Sting and Trudie Styler to help protect and preserve the world's threatened rainforest areas. The performers, plus additional surprise guests, will attend a live auction and gala dinner after the concert.

Styler, who is also the event's producer, helped convince Gaga to take a break from her European arena tour to be a part of the unique performance. "She's such a great young woman," Styler told Billboard in a phone interview. "It's a winning combination -- we're going to have a riotous time up there. Sting, Elton and Gaga will play together, and the boys will be performing with Dame Shirley, doing a great rendition of 'Hey Big Spender.'"

Elton John and Lady Gaga first performed together on the Grammy Awards telecast earlier this year.

Tickets for the concert will go on sale in early April at the Carnegie Hall box office, while information about the gala and a ticket order form can be downloaded at www.rainforestfoundationfund.org.

Over the past 21 years, the Rainforest Fund has raised more than $30 million for its efforts, which have expanded from the Amazonian rainforest in Brazil to include projects in 23 countries.

The last Rainforest Fund concert, in 2008, featured Billy Joel, James Taylor, Sting, Brian Wilson, Chris Botti, Feist and Roberto Alagna. The concerts, which have been held at Carnegie Hall for the past 15 years, have attracted such artists as Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, Tom Jones, Lyle Lovett, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Stringsteen, Paul Simon, Whitney Houston, Lenny Kravitz and Luciano Pavarotti.

"One of the things about this night," Styler said, is that "the audience comes expecting to see unusual combinations of singers. Because I've never recorded it, everyone lets their hair down. We raise a good amount of money for what I consider to be an incredibly important cause, but they have one heck of a night."

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