Stevie Wonder & The Peaceful Fire Alarm

Before Stevie Wonder could finish formally accepting his position as a U.N. Messenger of Peace, his speech was interrupted by a fire alarm as the United Nations Headquarters in New York City evacuated three basement levels.

The singer-songwriter and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were forced to leave a conference room. Apart from the three basement levels, the rest of the 39-story headquarters building was not evacuated.

Fifteen minutes after the alarms went off people were allowed to return to the conference rooms on the first basement level.

The alarm was set off by smoke from construction work in the second basement level, according to U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe. There was no damage or fire.

Photo: AP Photo
‘Mandela Day’ Concert, Radio City Music Hall, N.Y.

Wonder was named a U.N. Messenger of Peace with a special focus on helping people with disabilities.

Messengers of Peace, a group of 10 other notable figures which includes Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, actor Michael Douglas, primate expert Jane Goodall and conductor Daniel Barenboim, use public appearances to promote U.N. activities and ideals.

Ban described Wonder, who became blind shortly after birth, as “a true inspiration to young people all over the world about what can be achieved despite any physical limitations,” according to Reuters.

“He has consistently used his voice and special relationship with the public to create a better and more inclusive world, to defend civil and human rights and to improve the lives of those less fortunate.”

Okabe said the 59-year-old singer was the right man for this job because of his philanthropic work with the U.S. President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, the Children’s Diabetes Foundation and Junior Blind of America.

Wonder has won 25 Grammy Awards, recorded 32 No. 1 R&B and pop singles and sold more than 100 million records.

Click here and here for the AP articles.    

Click here for the Reuters article.