Music is a unifying force, a lifter of spirits. It rallies us and moves us. It inspires. And on Friday night, some of the biggest names in the music industry got together to put on a show in support of the relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The one-hour benefit concert, organized by NBCUniversal, was telecast live and commercial free from New York, just one of the cities trying to put things back together after the worst storm to hit the northeast US in 100 years left a trail of darkness and devastation in its wake.
Christina Aguilera, a native of beleaguered Staten Island, opened the show, which was formally called “Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together.” Before performing her signature song, “Beautiful,” she said, “We’ve come together tonight to tell every single person who’s suffering that we are here for you. We will do whatever we can to help. We will not leave anyone behind because every single one of you matters.”
Before the concert concluded there would be songs and appearances by Billy Joel, Jimmy Fallon, Steven Tyler, Mary J. Blige, Sting, Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Danny DeVito and NBC News’ Brian Williams. “Today” anchor Matt Lauer hosted the event.
All money collected during the show went to the American Red Cross, which has been on hand to provide food, shelter, support and assistance since the superstorm hit.
Estimates noted that some 60 million might have been affected by the storm before it made landfall, and final estimates note that over 50 million were impacted in some way or another from South Carolina to Maine and into Canada. Over 8.5 million people lost electricity service and some may go without power for over a week. The storm surge that rolled into New York City flooded the subway system and closed the New York Stock Exchange for two days, the first time that has occurred since 1888. Public transportation for over 10 million people from the Washington, D. C., area to New York was disrupted.
The Associated Press has reported that damages from Hurricane Sandy could exceed $20 billion, making it one of the most costly storms in history. CNN reported Saturday that the death toll had reached 106, with New Jersey adding nine more to its count.
CNN also reported that almost 100,000 people have already filed for emergency assistance — and that is just in the hardest hit areas of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.
Long-time New York resident Sting performed the Police classic “Message In A Bottle.”
Hard hit New Jersey was also well represented at “Coming Together.” Bon Jovi played an acoustic rendition of his blue-collar anthem “Living On A Prayer” after a video clip was shown of the rocker taking in the widespread devastation and talking to people made victims by the 1,000-mile-wide storm.
Fellow New Jerseyites Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band closed the show with their rousing song of hope, “Land of Hope and Dreams.”
All the associated stations of NBCUniversal aired the event. These included: NBC, Bravo, CNBC, E!, G4, MSNBC, NBC Sports Network, Style, Syfy and USA. Other networks that chose to broadcast were HBO, The Weather Channel, and Discovery’s Fit and Health.
It is as yet uncertain if a special concert album or DVD (or both) will result from the stars’ Red Cross efforts, but it seems to be the normal course for such charitable events.
For those who would like to help with the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, visit RedCross.org, call 1-800-HELPNOW or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.