Aussie Bushfire Aid: Promoters Revive Sound Relief Program, Artists Pledge Millions

Photo: Dan Himbrechts / AAP Images via AP

Ravaging bushfires in Australia have led to cancellations and evacuations of at least five festivals over the Christmas / New Year’s holiday.

Over half a dozen of Australia’s most high profile promoters are raising money for the country’s bushfire victims and volunteers as well as wildlife.

At least 24 people have died and half a million animals perished, with 500 homes and 20 million acres scorched.
In the meantime, an emotional Elton John announced at a Sydney show Jan. 7 he was donating A$1 million ($687,511), telling the cheering crowd, “You should all be in awe of the work that the firefighters are doing.”
 Frequent visitors Metallica put up A$750,000 (515,628), issuing a statement, “The resulting destruction and devastating effects on all residents, animals, the environment and the incredible land in Australia is truly heartbreaking.”
They followed donations of A$500,000 ($343,767) from Pink, Keith Urban and his actress wife Nicole Kidman, and Kylie Minogue’s family while EDM star Flume donated A$100,000 ($68,757), instagramming “I am heart broken.”
An online international campaign coordinated by comedian Celeste Barber has topped A$44 million ($30.2 million). 

Elton John
David Endicott
– Elton John
Sir Elton John performs in the first of two sold-out shows on Tuesday, September 17 at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash. on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour.
Michael Gudinski of Frontier Touring and Michael Chugg of Michael Chugg Entertainment are reviving their Sound Relief charity extravaganza, which on March 14, 2009 staged at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to 80,000 and Sydney Cricket Ground to 40,000 with Australian and international names and raised A$8 million ($5.5 million) for bushfire victims in Victoria and  those affected by flooding in Queensland.
Acts on the bills in the two cities included Midnight Oil, Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Kylie Minogue, Kings of Leon, Split Enz, Paul Kelly, Hunters & Collectors and John Farnham.
The 2020 version sees the pair teaming up with Live Nation, Secret Sounds and IMC.
The return of Sound Relief was announced through social media with no artists or dates revealed except it could be in late February or early March.
It has led to media speculation that Chugg is hoping to pin down Elton John, who has a window between the end of his Australian tour on March 7 and U.S. dates beginning March 26.
LN is also mooted to have convinced Pink to take a break from her post-world tour downtime.
TEG’s TEG Dainty and TEG Live are hosting Fire Fight Australia at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium Feb. 16, with artists and partners to be revealed in the next few weeks.
The company said, “This is a major musical event which will see globally-renowned artists from Australia and around the world come together to perform and show solidarity with people whose lives have been disrupted by the bushfires.”
Fire Fight is expected to be broadcast on a free-to-air TV channel.
One of the names linked to the event is Delta Goodrem whose benefit single “Let it Rain” written in an hour after watching TV news footage, hit No. 1 on iTunes within hours. 
A Sydney mural mocking prime minister Scott Morrison’s holidaying in Hawaii when the fires first began – for which he was criticized in the media and by victims – raised A$50,000 ($34,387).
There are currently 20 benefit shows held around the country, with club shows headlined by buzz act Tones & I and Courtney Barnett selling out in minutes.
Others were organized by a wide range of communities including those from EDM, hip hop, West Australia and rock acts with Greek backgrounds.
The largest is Down To Earth on Feb. 26 at Myer Music Bowl featuring Gang of Youths, Angus and Julia Stone, Briggs, Tash Sultana, Thelma Plum, Jack River and Ruby Fields.