Close to $US128 million ($200 million) has been raised in a star-studded concert to aid the World Health Organisation in the fight against the coronavirus.
It comes just days after US President Donald Trump called a halt to US funding pending a review of WHO’s handling of the crisis.
More than 70 artists and celebrities united around the world for an eight-hour online concert, called One World: Together At Home.
Global Citizen, an anti-poverty non-profit organisation that helped WHO organise the live broadcast, announced $US127.9 million had been raised by the virtual event.
“That is the power and impact of One World: #TogetherAtHome,” it wrote on Twitter.
$127.9 million for COVID-19 relief.
That is the power and impact of One World: #TogetherAtHome.
To everyone around the world: Stay strong, stay safe, we will be together in person soon. pic.twitter.com/QudE6j7reF
— Global Citizen (@GlblCtzn) April 19, 2020
The show began with a six-hour-long online stream and ended in a two-hour concert hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert.
Lady Gaga, John Legend, Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli brought One World: Together at Home to a close with soaring four-part harmony – and accompaniment by piano virtuoso Lang Lang – with The Prayer, the song that became an inspirational standard after Dion and Bocelli recorded it separately and together 21 years ago.
It was the sole appearance on the two-hour prime-time telecast by Bocelli. He might actually be the biggest pop star of the week, after his Easter Sunday live-stream from Milan was viewed by more than 30 million people on YouTube.
For Lady Gaga, who curated the special, it was a bookend to the number she began it with a little less than two hours earlier, a solo piano rendition of Charles Chaplin’s Smile.
Legend had also appeared earlier in the telecast, in a duet with Sam Smith.
The two-hour broadcast across multiple television channels around the world featured a Who’s Who of pop culture, with contributions filmed from their homes – from Paul McCartney, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, David Beckham and former US first ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush.
“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 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.”
The special also paid tribute to teachers and healthcare, grocery, delivery, postal and other workers.
“We aren’t asking for money tonight,” Colbert said.
The event was the biggest celebrity effort so far to mark the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 150,000 people worldwide.
The Prayer, a song with much vocal and celebrity firepower, was obviously going to be reserved for the climax of the long day of music.
OMG!!! Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli and John Legend!!!
I didn’t know I needed this in my life but I’m so happy I do now!! #TogetherAtHome #OneWorld #OneWorldTogetherAtHome @ladygaga @celinedion @johnlegend ❤️❤️❤️❤️
— ✨ 𝒦𝓇𝒾𝓈𝓉𝒾𝓃 ✨ (@KristinL_1185) April 19, 2020
It was immediately preceded by the night’s biggest solo star, Taylor Swift, who sang an equally emotional but less upbeat ballad, the cancer-themed Soon You’ll Get Better.
Songs of uplift filled much of the two hours, whether it was Keith Urban covering Steve Winwood’s Higher Love or Legend and Smith singing Ben E King’s Stand by Me.
— J O D E S 💗 (@jodes888) April 19, 2020
Billie Eilish and Finneas revived a 1960s classic that gets fewer revivals now, Sunny.
But the Rolling Stones had split-screen fun with the more practical message of You Can’t Always Get What You Want.
Performing via a four-way split screen, the song started off with Mick Jagger singing and playing acoustic guitar; then joined by Keith Richards, also on acoustic; then Ronnie Wood on some stinging electric lead; and finally Charlie Watts, who drummed on a black box, but didn’t even pretend to be actually playing, hitting invisible cymbals somewhere in the region of an armchair to his right.