On July 2 2005, Madonna performed Like A Prayer, Ray Of Light and Music in front of an audience of over 200,000 during the Live 8 benefit concert at London’s Hyde Park. Part of a series of concerts, many of which were held simultaneously at various locations around the world, Live 8 was broadcast live on television and radio to an estimated global audience of two billion.
Madonna is one of only eight acts – and the only female artist – to have been a headlining performer at both 1985’s Live Aid and 2005’s Live 8. Other returning performers were U2, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Sting, The Who, George Michael, and organizer, Bob Geldof. It took a bit of arm twisting on Geldof’s part to win Madonna’s commitment the second time around, as Madonna explained to MTV’s John Norris in a backstage interview after her performance:
Bob Geldof sent me a letter asking ‘will you do Live 8?’ and he didn’t really tell me anything and I went ‘Oh common dude, you gotta do better than that! Prove to me that it’s gonna make a difference and I’ll be there for you.’ And he did!”
In what turned out to be one of the event’s most moving moments, Madonna was introduced to the stage by Geldof with Birhan Woldu – the starving African child featured in the CBC News report twenty years earlier who had prompted Geldof to organize Live Aid. When Geldof had asked Woldu which artist she would like to appear with on stage, she immediately selected Madonna for the simple reason that she was the only artist on the bill that she had ever heard of. In a later interview, Woldu recalled the experience:
The crowd seemed to stretch for miles, but I’d been telling myself not to be nervous. There was just a huge picture of me as a child on the screen. That photo still upsets me. It was taken 20 years ago, when both my mother and sister died. I knew I must be strong for them but when I walked on I could feel my body shaking. Then Madonna took my hand and looked into my eyes, the crowd roared and I realised the world wanted to help my continent. I felt myself grow stronger.”
Madonna’s memorable performance at Live 8 was largely praised by mainstream media and fans alike.
On June 29 1998, Madonna’s Ray of Light single peaked at #3 on RPM’s Top 100 Canadian Singles chart.
As with all the Canadian singles from the Ray of Light album, the title track was issued by Warner Music Canada as a 2-track CD single and as a CD maxi-single. In the U.S., the album’s CD singles were issued in cardboard sleeves with “draw pack” trays and the CD maxi-singles in “FLP digipak” cases, while in Canada the two configurations for each of the album’s four domestic singles were packaged in standard CD jewel cases with printed inserts.
On June 20 1998, Madonna’s Ray of Light became the #1 dance single on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. The hit single remained #1 for 4 weeks!
Ray of Light was written by Madonna, William Orbit, Clive Muldoon, Dave Curtiss, Christine Leach, and produced by Madonna and Orbit. Ray of Light is based on Curtiss Maldoon’s Sepheryn.
“It took a long time to do the album, months. And it wasn’t like we were slacking. We actually did have to work fast, and there were many times when we had to move on. One of Madonna’s favorite phrases was: ‘Don’t gild the lily.’ In other words, keep it rough, and don’t perfect it too much. It’s a natural urge for computer buffs to perfect everything because they can, and we were very wary of that.”—William Orbit on working with Madonna; Keyboard magazine
On May 29 1998, Madonna visited The Oprah Winfrey Show to promote her album, Ray Of Light.
Madonna sat down for a lengthy interview and performed two songs from her new album, the title track, Ray Of Light, and Little Star – both for the first time on television.
The episode marked Madonna’s second visit to Oprah, following a 1996 appearance to promote her film, Evita.
On April 30 2006, Madonna made her festival debut at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California.
Madonna performed six songs in front of one of the largest crowds ever to witness an artist at the event. The set featured her latest hit single Hung Up, Get Together, I Love New York, Ray of Light, Let It Will Be and the vintage Everybody. The show served as a warm-up for the May 21 kick-off of her Confessions Tour in Los Angeles.