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When he was 12, Wyclef Jean liked to fantasize about helping other kids in his East Orange, N.J., neighborhood. "I used to imagine I was the rich kid in the ghetto," says Jean, 31. "I'd be like, 'Okay, today I'm gonna buy you this and you that.' " Now he's living out that dream. The Wyclef Jean Foundation—which organized a glittering benefit at Carnegie Hall Jan. 19 featuring Eric Clapton, Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder—is funding music education programs in his native Haiti and in New York City. Jean started his foundation three years ago after touring Haiti with his old outfit the Fugees. "There was a brass band playing 'Killing Me Softly' with old trumpets and trombones, and it was all off-key," he says. "I was like, 'We gotta get these kids some new instruments.' " Besides his charity work, Jean is prepping a third solo effort, due this fall, and hopes to team up with bandmates Lauryn Hill and Pras for another Fugees disc soon. "If we wait 30 years, I won't be able to dance."
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