LOS ANGELES — Will.i.am said he hoped to raise $1 million for his charity that benefits needy students at a concert Thursday night. Instead, he raised $5 million.
He hosted an event that featured performances from Stevie Wonder and Ne-Yo at the Hollywood Palladium for his i.am angel foundation, established in 2009.
The Black Eyed Peas leader said he was inspired by the 2010 documentary "Waiting for Superman," about U.S. public education. He said that "Superman is not coming to save no neighborhood or no education system."
"They might as well call that movie 'Waiting for William.' That's the reason why I'm doing what I am doing because that movie hits straight to heart because my mom went to one of those schools," he said.
Will.i.am also talked politics: He said President Barack Obama is not a "magic man," and that people shouldn't expect him to solve the country's problems with "some freakin' plan."
"We can sit and point fingers and say Obama's not doing his job, but you're supposed to do your job," said will.i.am, who has supported Obama in the past.
Thursday night's event, dubbed "TRANS4MATION EXPERIENCE," was the first annual celebration for will.i.am's foundation. Videos played in the background highlighted students struggling to get an education from various neighborhoods, including Boyle Heights, where will.i.am grew up. One message on the screen read: "It's time to bring good to the hood."
Will.i.am performed with the Black Eyed Peas, though Fergie was absent. The night's top guest was Wonder, who played the harmonica and the keys and sang classics like "My Cherie Amor" and "Superstition." The veteran singer said he was delighted to support will.i.am.
"How do you show your true friendship?" Wonder asked. "You put actions behind your words."
Ne-Yo followed after Wonder, saying loudly to laughs from the crowd: "I want to know who wants to put me after Stevie Wonder. What the (expletive)?"
Other performers included K'Naan and Flo Rida.
Mesfin Fekadu covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/musicmesfin