Musicians Raise Voices For Katrina

Art Garfunkel, left, and Paul Simon perform during the "From the Big Apple to the Big Easy" benefit concert, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2005, in New York's Madison Square Garden. Proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. AP

From jazz to hip-hop, New Orleans has played an important role in the development of American music. Because of its rich history, it holds a special place in the hearts of musicians from all over the world.

When Hurricane Katrina devastated the region, musicians sprung into action – donating money, holding auctions and organizing benefit concerts.

Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005 and only a few days later, on September 2, musicians and celebrities from film and television gathered for a telethon called "A Concert For Hurricane Relief" which aired on NBC, CNBC, MSN and Pax.

The event included performances by New Orleans natives Harry Connick, Jr., Wynton Marsalis, Aaron Neville, Louisiana-born Tim McGraw, and Missippi native Faith Hill. In between performances, celebrities urged people to call in and donate money to the American Red Cross.

"A Concert For Hurricane Relief" received pledges totaling more than $50 million.

On Sept. 9, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN, the WB and several cable networks, aired another telethon, "Shelter From The Storm: A Concert For The Gulf Coast." Viewers in nearly 100 countries were able to watch the telethon and performances by Bono, Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson, Dr. John, Neil Young, Foo Fighters, Mariah Carey, Paul Simon, and Garth Brooks among others.

Approximately $30 million was pledged for the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

BET received $11 million in pledges from its telethon, "Saving Ourselves (SOS)," which featured performances by Diddy, Jay-Z, Patti Labelle, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, and Eryakah Badhu.

During the telethon, rapper Lil' Jon presented a check for $250,000; Queen Latifah donated $100,000; and Russell and Kimorah Lee Simmons donated $100,000.

On Sept. 10, VH1, MTV, and CMT held their telethon with performances by Usher, Green Day, Ludacris, Alicia Keys, Usher, Dave Matthews Band, Rob Thomas, John Mellencamp, Gretchen Wilson and many others.

On Sept. 17, Wynton Marsalis, Bill Cosby, Elvis Costello and Diana Krall performed at the Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert for Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. The event was simulcast on National Public Radio and XM Satellite Radio.

Four years after receiving an outpouring of support and donations following the events of Sept. 11, New York had a chance to give back with "From The Big Apple To The Big Easy," a live concert that featured Cyndi Lauper, Elton John, Lenny Kravitz, Buckwheat Zydeco, Bette Midler and many others.

The Great American Country channel aired "Concert at the Grand Ole Opry on Sept. 27, with Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Keith Urban, Marty Stuart and others.

Many of the concerts were released on DVD with proceeds going to charity.

Several artists contributed songs to compilation albums, or gave proceeds from their own albums to charity.

  • Judy Faber

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