The 2010 FIFA World Cup is set to kick off in colorful, energetic and distinctly African musical fashion with a dynamic Opening Ceremony which will be watched live by hundreds of millions of viewers in 215 countries.

The 30-minute ceremony, with its cast of 1 581 world-class artists, dancers, musicians and performers, will start at Johannesburg’s iconic Soccer City stadium at 14h00 on 11 June 2010, ahead of the opening match between hosts South Africa and Mexico at 16h00.

Multiple Grammy Award winner, R Kelly, will sing the ceremony’s showpiece song, ‘Sign of a Victory’ with South Africa’s Soweto Spiritual Singers.

Kelly said participating in the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup “is the biggest thing I’ve ever been involved with”.

“I’ve heard so many great stories about Africa. To be here in this way, performing at the World Cup, there’s just no words for this. Musically, this is my World Cup. Any time you get the chance to be part of something this big and historical, it’s definitely very special,” said Kelly.

The rest of the world-class line-up for the Opening Ceremony features celebrated South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, charismatic Nigerian star Femi Kuti, who will perform the famous ‘Bang, Bang, Bang’ track, Algerian Afro-pop artist Khaled, legendary Ghanaian band Osibisa, as well as top-class South African artists Thandiswa Mazwai, Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP), TKZee and vocalist Timothy Moloi.

The Opening Ceremony will also feature well-known South African praise singer and poet, Zolani Mkhiva, as well as the music of Letta Mbulu and Chicco. The Field Band Foundation, an innovative and exciting organization with a track for youth development through music and dance among disadvantaged communities, will also participate in the ceremony.

The theme of the ceremony is “Welcoming the World Home” and is produced for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa (OC) by the VWV TILL DAWN Consortium, comprising the VWV Group and Till Dawn Entertainment. The consortium, which successfully staged the opening and closing ceremonies of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009, will also produce the tournament’s closing ceremony for the OC on 11 July 2010.

“I believe the Opening Ceremony is going to be a super showpiece of the very best of African arts, culture, song and dance. There will be a full representation of South African artists and artists from Africa, especially from the participating six-pack nations representing Africa at the tournament,” said South Africa’s Minister of Arts and Culture, Lulu Xingwana, whose department played a major role in securing the artists for the Opening Ceremony and sourcing particularly the artists from the African continent.

“The Opening Ceremony features a great line-up of South African and African giants of the music and entertainment industry and will showcase to a worldwide audience of millions the talent, creativity, technology and welcoming spirit and hospitality of the African continent. It will undoubtedly be a real African celebration of joy, life and energy,” said Dr Danny Jordaan, the OC’s Chief Executive Officer.

Gates to the Soccer City Stadium open at 10am this Friday, 11 June 2010, and the Organising Committee encourages fans to be in their seats by at least 13h00 in order not to miss the world-class Opening Ceremony and eagerly-anticipated Opening Match thereafter.