Hollywood's A-list and music's elite came together Friday night for the Hope For Haiti Now broadcast, and their efforts set a new record for disaster relief telethons, with more than 57 million dollars raised as of Sunday night. Money is still coming in, and many big corporate donations have yet to be added to the tally, as well as money from iTunes downloads of the telethon's musical performances. Several stars hosted segments between musical performances, urging viewers to continue giving to help Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake that hit the island nation earlier this month.
Among those relating the heart-wrenching conditions in Haiti were George Clooney, who both organized and hosted the telethon from Los Angeles, as well as Halle Berry, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samual L. Jackson, Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattison, Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Bill Clinton, Jon Stewart, Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Muhammad Ali, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks native Haitian Wyclef Jean. CNN's Anderson Cooper adn Sanjay Gupta gave perspective live from the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.
In addition to the musical performers, celebrities in Los Angeles, New York City and London took part in the effort. Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson, Ellen Degengeres, Robert DeNiro, Meg Ryan, Steven Spielberg, Taylor Lautner, Drew Barrymore and Mel Gibson were among the more than a hundred celebrities working the phone bank. Still, the musical performances were the centerpiece of the program.
Alicia Keys started the telethon with a solo piano performance of "Prelude To A Kiss" and Coldplay checked in with "A Message 2010," with lead singer Chris Martin later backing up Beyonce on piano for "Halo." Bruce Springsteen offered the hopeful" We Shall Overcome," while Stevie Wonder worked the Simon & Garfunkel classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water" into his own song, "A Time 2 Love."
The Roots provided back up for Shakira on The Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You," Jennifer Hudson's cover of the Beatles' "Let it Be" and Mary J. Bliges'stake on the folk song "Hard Times Come Again No More." They also performed with Sting and Chris Botti on "Driven to Tears."
Among the other dynamic collaborations on the show were Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock and Keith Urban teaming up for Bill Withers' "Lean on Me." Jay-Z, Rihanna, Bono and The Edge from U2 also checked in from London with the new charity single "Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)." Neil Young and Dave Mathews sang a haunting version of Hank Williams' "Alone and Forsaken."
On the pop front, Christina Aguilera debuted a new song called "Lift Me Up," while Taylor Swift accompanied herself on acoustic guitar singing Better Than Ezra's "Breathless" and John Legend gave a stirring performance of the traditional spiritual song "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child."
Justin Timberlake was joined by Charlie Sexton and Matt Morris in singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," and Madonna brought out a choir to help her sing "Like a Prayer." Haitian singer Emeline Michel delivered Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" with only an organ backing her up. Appropriately, Haitian native Wyclef Jean ended the telethon with "Rivers of Babylon," singing part of it in Creole, Haiti's primary language.
The songs from Hope For Haiti Now were released to iTunes as a benefit album, and is already the biggest one-day album pre-order in iTunes history. Of course, the download income is also going to earthquake relief.
Haiti. You can still give to the cause online at HopeForHaitiNow.org or by phone at 1-877-99-HAITI.
It was an amazing two hours, I'm not sure there was a moment that went by where I wasn't moved and in tears. I fell in love with so many of the performances and plan to head over to iTunes today to download them and donate even more to Hope For Haiti Now. ~Vanessa
Hope for Haiti Now Bonus is Donate