This Day in 1997: Jewel, Sinead, and Emmylou at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert

Monday, December 11, 2017
This Day in Music

20 years ago today, the annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert took place in Oslo, Norway, and Jewel, Sinead O’Connor, and Emmylou Harris were all there to commemorate the occasion.

The Nobel Peace Prize Concert became an annual tradition in 1994, when Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin were awarded Nobel Peace Prizes and were treated to performances by Ofra Haza, Mari Boine, Ole Edvard Antonsen, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Sigvard Dagsland, Sondre Bratland, and the aforementioned Ms. O’Connor.

In 1997, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines was the big winner, as was its coordinator, Jody Williams. As a rule, the prize winners generally don’t have a say in who performs, since the planning process begins well before the winners are named, but in Williams’ case, she asked for Emmylou Harris and, by God, she got her. In addition to Jewel and O’Connor, others on the list of performers included Anne Grete Preus, Boyz II Men, Harry Connick, Jr., Mariah Carey, Nils Petter Molvaer, Solvguttene, and Youssou N’Dour.

It wasn’t hard to secure Harris, as it happens: she’d been friends with Gail Griffiths, a major player in the efforts to ban landmines, since the early 1970s. As a result, Harris continues to be a steadfast supporter of the movement, although her remarks to The Washington Post in 1998 are still all too relevant enough now: "It's not enough to say we won't put any more in the ground; we've got to get them out. It comes down to basic courtesy, something you learn in kindergarten: You clean up after your mess when you're through. Until we do, these countries are going to be hostages. They're going to continue to live the war many, many years after peace has been declared."