MUSIC|AFP – US singers Joan Baez, Lou Reed and Suzanne Vega performed Saturday at a concert in Prague paying homage to former Czech president Vaclav Havel, a hero of the Velvet Revolution 20 years ago.
“These artists, passionate about freedom, were in solidarity with us at the darkest time,” Havel, 73, said at the start of the concert at an old church transformed into a cultural centre.
“They continue to be loyal to us,” said the playwright and former political prisoner.
Havel was one of the leaders of the November 1989 Velvet Revolution, which toppled communist rule in then Czechoslovakia. He was president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 until 1993 and then of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003.
Several world leaders sent greetings to Havel and the people of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the two countries that emerged after the revolution.
The Velvet Revolution was marked by a series of massive rallies against the communist regime which were sparked after the police crushed a peaceful student march on November 17, 1989.
All three American singers had met Havel before.
Reed, 67, is the former lead singer and songwriter of the Velvet Underground, the rock band whose records, he once told Columbia University, appealed to Havel and other Europeans because of the “anti-authoritarian freedom” conveyed in the songs.
Baez, whose music has inspired several anti-war, non-violence and human rights movements, performed at a concert in Czechoslovakia in 1989 attended by Havel, who later credited her with influencing the Velvet Revolution.