Dua Lipa and Elton John light up the virtual edition of his annual Oscars party
Elton John’s annual Oscars viewing party was not shaken by the pandemic. Keeping up a yearly tradition, the 29th Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards celebration shifted to a virtual format this year instead of its usual venue in West Hollywood.
Sunday’s gala, hosted by John, husband David Furnish and actor Neil Patrick Harris, featured a performance from pop musician Dua Lipa, who sang “Levitating,” “Pretty Please,” “Hallucinate” and “Don’t Start Now” from her acclaimed sophomore album, “Future Nostalgia.”
The crescendo of the night featured a piano-backed duet with John and Lipa — who changed into a long-sleeved silver gown embedded with diamonds. The duo performed “Bennie and the Jets” from John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album and “Love Again” from “Future Nostalgia.”
John and Lipa, accompanied by a choir and a violinist, sang in the middle of an ornate lobby. In their first-ever duet, they sang verses together before Lipa eventually took the lead as John backed her on piano. At the end of “Bennie and the Jets,” Lipa blew John a kiss.
The cast of “It’s a Sin” — Lydia West, Callum Scott Howells, Omari Douglas, Olly Alexander and Nathaniel Curtis — were among the star-studded guests. Elizabeth Hurley made a cameo, as did previous Oscar winner Lady Gaga, who gave a speech about mental health.
“Our mental health is fundamental to our physical health and this is especially true for young people fighting HIV,” Gaga said. “It’s tragic to think that a quarter of adolescents living with HIV don’t access the medical care they need because of depression or feeling overwhelmed. The reality is we won’t end the AIDS crisis unless we care for both mental and physical health.”
Cynthia Erivo also turned heads in a flamingo dress reminiscent of Björk’s swan ensemble at the 73rd Academy Awards.
Even as a virtual event, the gala raised a significant amount — $3 million — for John’s AIDS foundation.
The contribution comes as coronavirus-related disruptions have upended health services in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, which has led to an estimated 500,000 extra deaths from AIDs-related illnesses, according to the World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.
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