Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Akon says being a successful entertainer has given him a platform to pursue his dream of helping Africa grow and prosper.

The performer, songwriter and producer was born Aliaune Thiam in the U.S. of Senegalese parents and reared in both countries. He started an initiative called "Akon Lighting Africa" two years ago with a goal of bringing electricity to a million homes by the end of 2014. He told a U.N. news conference on promoting clean energy that the initiative not only achieved that but has spread to 14 African countries. The initiative — started with two partners and a credit line of $1 billion — now employs more than 5,000 mainly young people who install and maintain solar equipment.

With more than a dozen Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including "Smack That," "I Wanna Love You" and "Locked Up," Akon said he realized that as an entertainer he has a big audience and is in a position to influence them. "I think ultimately … where God allows you to speak to a billion people you always ask yourself, when you get a chance of that nature, what will you say? What is your purpose?" Akon said.

Rockefeller to offer gift for his birthday

The oldest member of the Rockefeller family is giving a gift as part of his 100th birthday celebration: 1,000 acres of land including streams, trails and carriage roads abutting Acadia National Park.

David Rockefeller, the retired CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank and grandson of oil tycoon John Rockefeller Sr., is transferring family property at Little Long Pond in Seal Harbor to the Mount Desert Island & Garden Preserve, describing it as a "gift to all the people of Maine." Rockefeller turns 100 on June 12.

ratings gold: David Letterman closed out his 33 years in late-night television with one of the highest-rated shows of his career. "The Late Show" brought in 13.7 million viewers, his biggest audience since February 1994. It also beat every network show in prime time on Wednesday. The finale represents his fourth-most-viewed show since Letterman joined CBS in 1993. His star-studded show included Chris Rock, Bill Murray, Tina Fey and Peyton Manning.

sentenced: A man convicted of stealing items from pop singer Miley Cyrus' home last year has been sentenced to two years in state prison. Rusty Sellner was sentenced in Los Angeles, three months after he pleaded no contest in the case. The 22-year-old was charged with stealing what a prosecutor described as a large amount of personal property from Cyrus' Toluca Lake home in December.

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