By Hayden Wright
Tonight, scores of high-profile entertainers joined forces for the telethon Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief. The multi-network broadcast included music stars like Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Drake, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, DJ Khaled and more. Proceeds will go to the Rebuild Texas Fund, ASPCA, Best Friends, Direct Relief, Feeding Florida, Feeding Texas, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children and United Way.
The telecast was conceived as a response to Hurricane Harvey’s destruction, though funds will also assist survivors of Hurricane Irma when the need is evaluated. In his opening remarks, Leonardo DiCaprio promised to “lift the survivors out of the darkness” with inspirational entertainment and financial assistance.
The show kicked off with a rousing performance of “Lean on Me” by Stevie Wonder, backed by a gospel choir. In his introduction, Wonder gave a powerful speech with a social and environmental message. As cameras panned throughout the studio, celebrities like Cher and Robert DeNiro could be seen working the telethon phones.
“When love goes into action it preferences no color of skin, no ethnicity, no sexual preference or political persuasion—it just loves…Anyone who believes there’s no such thing as global warming must be blind or unintelligent,” the sight-impaired living legend said.
The second performance of the night came from Usher and Blake Shelton, who performed “Stand by Me” in perfect harmony. Afterwards, Beyoncé appeared via video message to issue a call to action.
“National disasters don’t discriminate,” said the Houston native. “They don’t see if you’re an immigrant, black or white, Jewish or Muslim…Seeing everyone of different social, racial and religious backgrounds…restored my faith in humanity.”
Beyoncé closed her remarks with an urgent message about climate change.
“The effects of climate change are playing out around the world every day,” she said. “We have to be prepared for what happens next.”
Next, Justin Bieber was joined by a pastor, iman and rabbi who lead an interfaith prayer. “We don’t want you guys to just watch—we want you to be a part of it and donate whatever you possibly can,” Bieber said.
Tori Kelly performed an emotional rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as a duet with Luis Fonsi and Dave Matthews played his own track “Mercy” on an acoustic guitar.
Afterwards, Drake appeared via video message and said he’s proud to see Millennials stepping up to help victims. “Thank you to anyone who picks up a phone and answers this call to action,” he said.
In one of the night’s most star-studded moments, Brad Paisley sang The Beatles “With A Little Help From My Friends,” (in the Joe Cocker style), with Demi Lovato, Darius Rucker and CeCe Winans. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill recalled the flooding of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and promised that hurricane-stricken communities will recover from their setbacks.
To close the show, George Strait performed his classics “Texas” and “I Believe” with Miranda Lambert, Lyle Lovett, Chris Stapleton and Robert Earl Keen.
Make a donation for Hurricane Relief here.