Elton John attends the 28th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party, holding the Oscar for Best Original Song for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman”, which he won with Bernie Taupin at the 92nd Academy Awards, in West Hollywood, California, U.S. February 9, 2020. REUTERS/David McNew
Billie Eilish sang on her sofa, Elton John played a keyboard belonging to his children. The Backstreet Boys sang in harmony from five locations as dozens of musicians put on a fundraiser for the warriors against the coronavirus. They raised nearly $8 million for two charities serving first responders and Americans facing economic hardship amid the coronavirus crisis, sponsors said on Monday. The Sunday night show, hosted by Elton John from his kitchen, featured Billie Eilish, the Backstreet Boys, Lizzo, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, and Tim McGraw. The guests all appeared by way of smartphones, home cameras or online platforms. The Fox broadcast network carried the hour-long show, dubbed the “iHeart Living Room Concert for America,” live without commercial interruption, drawing 8.7 million television viewers, Fox said.
The songs were interspersed with short personal stories from nurses, doctors, truckers, grocery staff, and other essential workers as millions of Americans entered a second full week subjected to stay-at-home orders designed to curb the spread of coronavirus. Dr. Elvis Francois, a surgeon from Rochester, Minnesota, stole hearts on social media with an emotional rendition of “Imagine” performed in medical scrubs. “Did this doctor just out-sing every artist that’s performed?” one viewer, Ender Wiggins, asked on Twitter. The concert, also broadcast on iHeart radio stations nationwide, urged listeners to donate to two charities, Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation. “My heart goes out to people who have lost loved ones and also those who are losing their jobs,” said Lady Gaga, clad in pink sweatpants and a hoodie. Alicia Keys, singing “Rise Up,” Dave Grohl performing “My Hero,” and Billie Joe Armstrong’s acoustic version of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” spoke to the hardships of millions of those working or laid off as stores, restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters have shut down.
“There’s doctors, nurses, and scientists on the frontlines. They’re living proof that most superheroes don’t wear capes,” said Elton John from his kitchen.
As of Monday evening, the benefit special had raised nearly $8 million for the two organizations, including $500,000 donated by household products giant Procter & Gamble and a matching sum from Fox. YouTube, which also made a donation in support of the cause, will continue streaming the benefit show through Wednesday on iHeart Radio’s YouTube channel.
“After we come out of this horrible thing, I hope we are nicer to each other and fairer to one another,” John said.