Music From the Heart

Christina Aguilera’s voice captured my attention last night. I turned on the Telethon for Hurricane Sandy Relief broadcast from NBC across the nation and heard her sing as only Christina can sing, a powerful heart-felt voice singing “Beautiful” accompanied by a piano.  No dancing, no costumes, no stage extravaganza, just that voice.  I settled in, knowing suddenly that I was in for a rare musical treat.

Musicians, actors, comedians, newscasters – all gathered on an NBC New York soundstage in a simple and direct plea to help their fellow citizens so profoundly affected by the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Jon Bon Jovi toured his childhood neighborhood of Sayreville, New Jersey, speaking with old friends and neighbors, then sang “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” with his guitar in hand, a second guitarist and violinist adding poignancy to the song.  And so the night went, from an acoustic trio of Aerosmith performing “Dream On” to Sting soloing on “Message in a Bottle.” A moving video of both destruction and hope was set to the Coldplay song “Fix You” – a combination that moved me to tears.  Many other musicians, actors, and entertainment luminaries from Jon Stewart to Billy Joel added their voices to an hour that was commercial free, just a plea for helping others.

The stars of the entertainment world often, to their credit, come together to raise money for important causes.  Why was I so profoundly moved by this particular broadcast? Yes, everyone on the stage had a personal connection to this tragedy, an intensity often missing from other efforts. But this is what I think that struck me and moved me.  The staging was minimal, no histrionics or big gestures, and a very small audience.  Just talented people standing or sitting simply, making music from their hearts and souls, the way they perhaps always intended to do before getting caught up in the world of big music business. These are the people I know as musicians, truly in love with what they do, and reaching deep inside themselves, not for effect, but for authenticity. I don’t know when I’ve witnessed a concert quite like this. This morning, I still get a bit weepy as I think of the power of music offered to help those in need.

If you missed the concert, NBC has made it available in its entirety here. Please consider giving money to the Red Cross for this effort – it is easy to text a $10 donation from your cell phone or make a donation online at iTunes or directly to the Red Cross. Here’s a full summary of the concert from Yahoo News.

Please don’t forget the victims with no voice, the pets and animals deeply affected by this tragedy.  The sight of National Guard loading the family pet into a truck was heartwarming but more animals and their families need our help.  The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is actively trying to rescue pets left behind or lost and reunite them with their families.  You can help with their Disaster Relief efforts here.

So today, I count my blessings once again and feel enormous pride and tenderness for all who stood simply yet powerfully on a small studio stage last night and sang to help others.

23 thoughts on “Music From the Heart

  1. I missed it, and will check out your link, hoping it’s still available. The footage from areas where I spent my childhood has been heartbreaking.

    I love this: “Just talented people standing or sitting simply, making music from their hearts and souls, the way they perhaps always intended to do before getting caught up in the world of big music business.” That’s the best kind of music of all. 🙂

  2. Lynn. Thank you so much for this service. I’ve been trying to find this concert in its entirety because I missed most of it. I have often said that Christina’s voice is one of the greatest in her generation but she rarely showcase it properly. What she did for this benefit is Christina at her finest. I feel the same about Mary J. Blige. I’m off today. . .I’ll definitely take the time to listen to the entire concert, because my heart just breaks for our brothers and sisters in these areas, and WW and I are doing whatever we can to lend a hand. All the best.

    • Eleanor, I was lucky to turn to the channel just as Christina was starting. I should have mentioned Mary J. Blige as well. She sang so powerfully and was so passionate that she couldn’t even speak to the hosts after her performance. I was in tears by then. I am sure you will enjoy the whole concert; even artists whose music I don’t follow struck me as powerful and sincere. Enjoy 🙂

    • Tracy, I think that some of that busy-ness is just voices trying to be heard in a noisy world. So, it seems remarkable when one hears the quiet yet powerful voice cutting through the fray. Hope you enjoy listening to the concert as much as I did 🙂

    • Thanks for visiting and commenting, Frank – “a gift without glitz” is a great phrase! I often like all the “bells and whistles” but the simplicity and directness of this concert really touched me.

  3. Thank you for posting this. I saw some of it. It is hard to go with my everyday life in temporarily safe, warm and dry California when so much is lost back East. Words have failed me this is good.

  4. Perhaps this will ignite others to unplug or to cut the umbilical cord to the industry machine and return to the art of the craft which inspired them, inspires others and can in time like this help in many many ways. I know your message here truly made me consider beyond your intent I think.

    There is much I want and could say here, but I won’t, I’ll just take this time to reflect on your words and thoughts which resonate loudly and tug in a good direction.

    • Hudson, your comments always give me food for thought. I often think of star-studded musical fundraisers and charity events as having as much hoopla as a commercial concert; in fact, my take is that the organizers see it as necessary. What struck me about this was that it was very much like a living room concert – beautifully crafted as far as sound and light and imagery, but also very low key and up close, intimate enough that the inner artist came through each person on stage. It probably isn’t viable for a touring business model but it certainly worked for a benefit concert.

      • There’s a nasty couple words – business model. Don’t sell yourself short, I believe there is a place for getting up close and personal and your bang on. Since commenting, I sat and listen to Dylan’s ‘ the times they are a changin’. I know I cannot compare then to present, but now we are facing a wild world changing us. In less than ten years climate has come up close and personal in the United States: Katrina was first and now Sandy. I recently started reading a blog by a poet living in New Orleans who since Katrina has felt compelled to express that which is ‘up close and personal’ to her. And now in the shadow of Sandy she continues for those whom are now suffering. There is something to ‘up close and personal’, it gets our attention and makes us think.

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