Whose who of pop culture unite for One World coronavirus special

English rock band The Rolling Stones perform live on a screen in Hong Kong during One World Together At Home event.
English rock band The Rolling Stones perform live on a screen in Hong Kong during One World Together At Home event.
Image: KEITH TSUJI

Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Beyoncé and Oprah Winfrey headlined a special broadcast of music, comedy and personal stories celebrating those around the world on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic at the weekend.

The two-hour “One World: Together at Home” event, broadcast across multiple television channels across the world, featured a who’s who of pop culture in the biggest celebrity gathering so far to mark the effects of the virus.

Contributions, all filmed in their homes, also came from Elton John, Jennifer Lopez, Stevie Wonder, British soccer star David Beckham, former US first ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush, Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, Billie Eilish, Bill Gates and dozens of others.

“I’m so grateful for the healthcare workers, the medical workers, all the grocery store workers and delivery people, the postal workers, all the other non-profits that are working so hard,” Gaga, who helped organise the event, said.

This is really a true love letter to all of you all over the world, and I hope a reminder of the kindness that’s occurring right now

“This is really a true love letter to all of you all over the world, and I hope a reminder of the kindness that’s occurring right now.”

The event, led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the non-profit group Global Citizen, told the personal stories of teachers and healthcare, grocery, delivery, postal and other workers.

It showed social media postings and news clips of doctors and nurses being applauded by communities around the world, deserted world landmarks, families greeting each other through windows, and acts of kindness in support of those who are isolated and frail.

“We aren’t asking for money tonight,” said Stephen Colbert, who hosted the broadcast on Saturday night alongside his US late-night television rivals Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon.

Instead of seeking public funds, the event encouraged philanthropists and companies to contribute to the WHO’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Corporate and other donors had already contributed some $150m (R2.8bn), organisers said.

“What I’d like tonight, if I can, is to give you the permission for the moment to ... Smile,” said Gaga, kicking off the evening by launching into a version of the ballad made famous by Nat King Cole.

Beyoncé did not perform but sent a video message in which she noted the disproportionately high death rates from Covid-19 in the black community.

“This virus is killing black people at an alarming rate in America,” she said, urging viewers to protect themselves.

Swift, on piano, gave an emotional rendition of her ballad Soon You'll Get Better, which was originally written during her mother’s battle with cancer.

The Rolling Stones, filmed in four separate locations, sang You Can't Always Get What You Want, with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards playing acoustic guitars.

“We all appreciate the healthcare workers but never like now,” Winfrey said in a video message.

Wonder played the late Bill Wither classic Lean on Me, and McCartney, recalling that his mother was a nurse and midwife, sang Lady Madonna.

Earlier on Saturday, pop, classical and rap musicians from the US, Asia and the Middle East took part in a six-hour livestream to raise awareness of the need to practise physical distancing. — Reuters


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