New York remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a disproportionate amount of confirmed cases and fatalities attributed to the virus. The severity of the pandemic has taxed many city-based charities, from food banks to homeless shelters and beyond.
To ease the considerable financial burden, iHeartMedia and Robin Hood teamed up for Rise Up New York!, a one-hour virtual telethon streamed across numerous platforms that featured performances from Mariah Carey, Bon Jovi, Sting, Billy Joel and more to raise money for New York City’s COVID-19 relief efforts.
Hosted by Tina Fey, the actress encouraged those to support not only New York City-based charities, but also those within the Tri State area, shouting out in particular New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund and 4-CT.
The telethon not only provided a glimpse of the daily life of those working the front lines and running charities providing critical care to those most in need, celebrities with ties to the Big Apple banded together to share messages of encouragement and lend their voices for special performances.
Carey was the first musical guest and set the bar by singing her 1991 hit “Make It Happen” from her home studio while her backup singers and pianist beamed in from their living rooms.
Other highlights included Sting jamming from his electronic equipment-heavy studio to perform The Police‘s 1979 classic “Message in a Bottle.” While strumming his guitar, the camera flashed to inspirational messages New Yorkers have written on their windows or handmade signs to bolster the stricken city. The rocker ended his uplifting tune with an encouraging wink.
New Jersey and New York natives Bon Jovi breathed new life into a stripped down version of “It’s My Life” by scaling back the usually uptempo rock song and transforming it into a melancholy battle cry, which demonstrated how COVID-19 has given their lyrics a brand new meaning.
Lin Manuel Miranda organized a handful of Broadway legends, including alums Idina Menzel and Cynthia Erivo, to sing a passionate yet goofy rendition of “New York, New York.”
In addition, Alicia Keys highlighted front line workers with her soulful ballad “Good Job.”
The night closed out with an uplifting performance from Joel, singing “Miami 2017(Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway.” As the 71-year-old rallied New Yorkers to their feet with his lively piano playing, the lights atop the Empire State Building flashed with red, white and blue with each key strike, creating a choreographed dazzling display. Joel’s performance also played live over an almost empty Times Square.
Other notable celebrities showing support to their city were Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Chris Rock, Patti Lupone, Barbra Streisand, Jake Gylenhaal and Jennifer Lopez — who introduced the elementary school singers of the PS 22 Chorus, who performed an adorable socially-distanced rendition of Andra Day‘s “Rise Up.”
At the end of the telethon, host Fey choked up with emotion upon announcing that donations exceeded $115 million dollars.
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