28 JUNE 2008

To the delight of the audience, Amy Winehouse took to the stage at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday concert in Hyde Park on Friday night, just days after being diagnosed with emphysema.

Looking healthy and tanned in a black and cream dress, Amy – whose appearance had been under doubt due to her illness – was back to her best as she performed hits Valerie and Rehab at the concert.

For many in the crowd, her act was the highlight of a day begun by Hollywood star Will Smith and his wife Jada. In front of 46,664 spectators – including Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Prince William's girlfriend Kate Middleton – the Hancock star praised the former South African leader.

"Nelson Mandela has taught us about love and reconciliation, taught us about justice," he told the cheering crowd.

A who's who of famous faces then took to the stage, including X-Factor winner Leona Lewis, the Sugababes, who were introduced by racing star Lewis Hamilton, newlywed Jamelia and Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox.

As well as the live acts, a giant screen played messages of congratulations from celebrities including David Beckham, Morgan Freeman, Susan Sarandon and Sharon Osbourne.

And of course, no birthday celebration would have been complete without an appearance from the man of the moment. Joined by his wife Graca Machel, Mr Mandela made his way from the VIP area onto the stage, where the stars and the crowd burst into a rendition of Happy Birthday.

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Putting aside her recent illness, Amy Winehouse delivered a quality performance, singing two of her hits at the birthday concert Photo: © Getty Images
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Flanked by stars, Mr Mandela made his way onto the stage where he made a short speech urging people to act to help prevent poverty and AIDS in Africa. "Tonight we stand before you free," he said. "But even as we celebrate, let us remind ourselves that our work is far from complete." Photo: © PA
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Will Smith and his wife Jada kicked the concert off, shouting: "Ladies and gentlemen, the party begins now" Photo: © Getty Images
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