NEW YORK (AP) – Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Lizzo, Shawn Mendes and others sang classic songs brimmed with messages of hope and change during a TV special aimed at fighting the coronavirus, while BeyoncÃ© and Alicia Keys spoke passionately about how the virus has disproportionately affected black Americans.
BeyoncÃ© made a surprise appearance on Saturdayâ€™s TV special â€œOne World: Together At Home,â€ thanking â€œdelivery workers, mail carriers and sanitation employeesâ€ for their hard work during the pandemic.
â€œBlack Americans disproportionately belong to these essential parts of the workforce that do not have the luxury of working from home. And African American communities at large have been severely affected in this crisis. Those with pre-existing conditions are at an even higher risk. This virus is killing black people at an alarmingly high rate here in America,â€ BeyoncÃ© said.
African Americans account for more than one-third of COVID-19 deaths in the United States where the race of victims has been made public. Data from states, cities and counties show black people are regularly overrepresented compared to their share of the population.
â€œPlease protect yourselves,â€ BeyoncÃ© continued. â€œWe are one family. We need you. We need your voices, your abilities and your strength all over this word. I know itâ€™s very hard but please be patient, stay encouraged, keep the faith, stay positive and continue to pray for our heroes.â€
An Associated Press analysis, based on data through Thursday, found that of the more than 21,500 victims whose demographic data was known and disclosed by officials, more than 6,350 were black, a rate of nearly 30%. African Americans account for 14.2% of the 241 million people who live in the areas covered by the analysis. The nation had recorded more than 33,000 deaths as of Thursday.
Keys presented similar data when she spoke during the special, ending with: â€œKeep your frequency high and Iâ€™m sending you all my love.â€
Gaga, who curated the all-star TV event, kicked off it off by urging people weathering the coronavirus pandemic to find a way to smile through the pain with a performance of Nat King Coleâ€™s version of the song â€œSmile.â€
She performed during the second part of an eight-hour event supporting the World Health Organization alongside advocacy organization Global Citizen.
â€œI care so much about the medical workers that are putting their lives at risk for us,â€ Gaga said.
Wonder performed â€œLean On Meâ€ by Bill Withers – who died on March 30 – while playing piano. He told viewers: â€œDuring hardships like this we have to lean on each other for help.â€ John Legend and Sam Smith, each from their own homes, duetted on â€œStand by Meâ€; Lizzo sang â€œA Change Is Gonna Comeâ€ with passion; and Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, sitting together, performed â€œWhat a Wonderful World.â€
Paul McCartney sang the Beatlesâ€™ â€œLady Madonnaâ€ and talked about the work his mother did as a nurse. The members of the Rolling Stones – from four different locations – joined forces to perform â€œYou Canâ€™t Always Get What You Want.â€ And Taylor Swift sang â€œSoon Youâ€™ll Get Betterâ€ while playing piano.
Former first ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush, Oprah Winfrey, Bill and Melinda Gates, Ellen DeGeneres, Pharrell Williams, Kerry Washington, Lupita Nyongâ€™o and Henry Golding offered positive words while photos of health care workers and everyday people were shown on the screen. Reggaeton star J Balvin even offered tips on handwashing, while doctors and other medical workers spoke about social distancing and relief efforts.
â€œOne World: Together At Homeâ€ featured stars appearing in intimate settings, beamed virtually to the world. It aired simultaneously on ABC, NBC, CBS, iHeartMedia and Bell Media networks and was hosted by Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.
Colbert told viewers to â€œtake out their wallets and put them away.â€ Kimmel added that over $50 million had already been raised to help those during the worldly crisis.
Performers included Billie Eilish and her producer-brother Finneas, Elton John, Jennifer Lopez, Green Dayâ€™s Billie Joe Armstrong, Kacey Musgraves, Maluma and Keith Urban. Gaga, Legend, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli and Lang Lang closed the special with a collaborative performance of â€œThe Prayer.â€
Earlier in the day, a six-hour streaming event featuring Andra Day, Niall Horan, Kesha, Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, Heidi Klum and Jason Segel aired on digital platforms as part of the â€œOne World: Together At Homeâ€ event.
â€œItâ€™s Kesha from quarantine day 500. I miss my fans so much,â€ Kesha said, sitting in front of her fireplace as her cat made noises in the background. â€œI know that thereâ€™s so many people working and not sleeping and sacrificing so much to help figure this out for everyone and I just think the vulnerability of us all as human beings right now is really showing a really beautiful side to humanity.â€
Country singer Maren Morris, rock performer Hozier, British star Rita Ora and Emirati singer Hussain Al Jassmi also performed during the early part of the special, which included videos focused on health care workers on the front lines fighting the spreading coronavirus. It also aired a package of people getting married – some in front of their homes, others inside – during the pandemic.