updated 07/11/2008 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 07/11/2008 AT 11:50 AM ET
Alicia Keys raised nearly $700,000 hosting Thursday’s night’s first U.K. “Black Ball,” a star-packed London fund-raiser to benefit children with AIDS in Africa.
“Our main goal is that for [one dollar] a day we can provide the medicine and care to keep children alive,” said the R&B singer, 28, a co-founder of the Keep A Child Alive foundation.
Keys, who’s touring Europe this summer, walked the red carpet with her brother Cole, and told reporters: “I’m definitely excited about bringing the one and only Annie Lennox on stage with me. It’s going to be an exclusive, inspirational night.”
Initially formed by AIDS activist Leigh Blake in 2003, Keep A Child Alive aims to offer lifesaving anti-retroviral medicine to the children and families with HIV/AIDS in Africa as well as support an orphan-care project in India.
As Blake told PEOPLE of Keys’s involvement, “She is stronger than I am. She e-mails me every single day, she is incredible.”
Says Jennifer Hudson, 26, who costars with Keys in the upcoming The Secret Life of Bees, “I call Alicia my mentor.”
Keys hosted the later part of the event in jeans and a Barack Obama T-shirt as she introduced performers.
Lennox received a standing ovation when she did the evening’s finale of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” and REM’s “Everybody Hurts” with Keys joining in on piano.
Guests included Mischa Barton and Kelly Rowland, who, after dancing up a storm, told PEOPLE the night was “perfect. A moment of true greatness.”