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.