The devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina on the U.S. Gulf Coast has been called “America’s tsunami,” and the entertainment industry is responding in kind, as word of numerous efforts to aid the victims of the catastrophe come pouring across fax machines and news wires.
Of the broadcast efforts, “A Concert for Hurricane Relief” was quickly scheduled to air on NBC and cable networks MSNBC and CNBC the evening of September 2nd. The hourlong special, hosted by Matt Lauer in New York City, was to include performances by Louisiana natives Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr., Aaron Neville and Tim McGraw.
Velvet Revolver announced it will play a September 6th benefit at the Orlando, Fla., Hard Rock Live. The band was to have performed at the scheduled September 9th opening of the Biloxi, Miss., Hard Rock Casino’s concert stage, which was heavily damaged in the hurricane.
Country superstar Alan Jackson is donating all of the proceeds from his September 8th “What I Do Tour” concert at Germain Amphitheater in Columbus, Ohio, to the America Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
Chris Rock, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Russell Simmons, Wynton Marsalis and Master P will participate in a telethon on Black Entertainment Television September 9th.
MTV Networks also announced an aid effort set for September 10th on MTV, VH1, CMT and other affiliated channels. Performers at press time included Green Day, Ludacris, Gretchen Wilson, Usher, Alicia Keys, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews Band, Rob Thomas, David Banner, and Linkin Park‘s Chester Bennington.
Dave Matthews Band was first out of the gate to announce a live benefit concert, adding a date September 12th to its previously scheduled and reportedly sold-out three-night stand at Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver.
Mayor John Hickenlooper and promoter Chuck Morris held a press conference September 1st at Denver’s The Fillmore Auditorium to announce details of the gig.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the communities that have been affected by Katrina,” DMB said in a statement quoted by ABC7 in Denver. “The devastation and human loss is heartbreaking. We thank Mayor Hickenlooper and Chuck Morris for their efforts in making this benefit concert a reality in such a short period of time.”
Tickets were to go on sale September 10th at all Ticketmaster centers. A limited number of VIP tickets will be available and remaining seats were priced at $58.50. Ticketmaster and the band’s own direct ticketing company, Musictoday, will be donating its applicable service charges per ticket.
DMB, Chuck Morris Presents and all supporting companies agreed to donate 100 percent of the profits from the show, Morris told the TV station.
Jazz gets into the act as Wynton Marsalis, Bill Cosby, Elvis Costello and Diana Krall perform the Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert for Jazz at Lincoln Center September 17th in New York City.
Alan Jackson, Keith Urban and Alison Krauss will perform a Grand Ole Opry benefit concert in Nashville September 27th. It will air live on cable network Great American Country.
E! Networks announced it would produce a PSA to support the American Red Cross featuring Destiny’s Child, Mariah Carey, Carlos Santana, Paula Abdul and others. Mississippi-bred rockers 3 Doors Down has also produced a PSA providing information on contacting various relief organizations. The video is available at 3DoorsDown.com and UniversalRecords.com.
Rap mogul Master P, whose house in New Orleans was destroyed, has formed a foundation called Team Rescue to “save the neighborhood and rebuild our communities.” The rapper was still looking for missing family members in the New Orleans area at press time.
Clear Channel Radio and television stations nationwide began airing public service announcements directing listeners to StormAid.com, the online site the company operates and used for its fund-raising efforts after last year’s South Asian tsunami.
StormAid is also providing National Hurricane Center advisories for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and a list of Clear Channel stations airing shelter locations and directions, providing coverage, collecting donations for the American Red Cross and holding collection drives.
In addition, Clear Channel Entertainment is in the process of organizing benefit concerts and collection drives, which are expected to be announced shortly.
The St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., is serving as a donation collection center in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey and Storm arena football teams. In addition to collecting needed goods for victims, players from the two teams signed autographs for those donating to the cause.
Donations will also be accepted during September shows by the Scream Tour, Reggaeton Exploitation, and Ice Fest at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Walt Disney Co. is throwing in $2.5 million and Celine Dion, along with Las Vegas “New Day” partners AEG Live / Concerts West and Dragone, donated $1 million to the Red Cross, as did Sean “Diddy” Combs and Jay-Z. Seventeen-year-old Hilary Duff is contributing $250,000 and encouraging fans to bring food donations to her concerts.
Actors like Morgan Freeman are organizing auctions, jam-band mag Relix is donating a portion of new subscriptions and artists at CDBaby.com are even kicking in proceeds.
— Deborah Speer