Musical Worlds Join Together During Hope for Haiti Now Telethon

Taylor Swift, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, Keith Urban, Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock Among the All-Star Cast

Taylor Swift covered Better Than Ezra, Neil Young and Dave Matthews shared vocals on a Hank Williams Sr. song and Keith Urban, Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock provided a group arrangement of a Bill Withers classic as the country-related highlights of the Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief telethon delivered Friday night (Jan. 22) by media outlets throughout the world.

In addition to the money raised during the telethon, their performances are among the live tracks that can be preordered at iTunes as a full performance album ($7.99) and a full two-hour video telecast ($2.99). Preorders will be delivered in the days following the telethon. Individual audio tracks will be made available for purchase and download for 99 cents each. The Hope for Haiti Now performances will also be available for purchase on AmazonMP3 and Rhapsody, with distribution provided by INgrooves.

Apple, the record labels and the artists will donate their share of the proceeds to Haiti relief funds managed by Hope for Haiti Now charities. They consist of Oxfam America, Partners in Health, the Red Cross, UNICEF, United Nations World Food Programme, Yele Haiti Foundation, and the newly-formed Clinton Bush Haiti Foundation. Proceeds from Hope for Haiti Now donations and retail sales will be split among each organization’s individual funds for Haitian earthquake relief efforts.

Swift, who also accepted donations on a celebrity phone bank, selected Better Than Ezra’s “Breathless” as her musical contribution of the evening. Young and Matthews dug deep to come up with Williams’ song, “Alone and Forsaken.” In an intriguing collaboration, Urban, Crow and Kid Rock offered a spirited version of Withers’ 1972 hit, “Lean on Me.”

Other high points involved even older songs, with Bruce Springsteen performing “We Shall Overcome,” the protest song from the civil rights movement, and Mary J. Blige singing Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More.”

With most of the artists performing in Los Angeles and New York, U2 ’s Bono and the Edge teamed up with Jay-Z and Rihanna in London for a live performance of a new song written in response to the earthquake, “Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour).” Their special studio track — “Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour) — Version 1.0” will be featured alongside the live performances on the Hope for Haiti Now album.

The night also included performances by Madonna (“Like a Prayer”), Beyoncé (“Halo”), Wyclef Jean (“Rivers of Babylon”), Jennifer Hudson (“Let It Be”), Shakira (“I’ll Stand by You”), Sting (“Driven to Tears”), Alicia Keys (“Send Me an Angel”), Christina Aguilera (“Lift Me Up”), John Legend (“Motherless Child”), Justin Timberlake (“Hallelujah”), Stevie Wonder (“Time to Love/Bridge Over Troubled Water”) and Coldplay (“A Message”).

However, the most powerful moment came when Emeline Michel, a popular Haitian vocalist, sang Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross.”

In addition to the musical elements, the telethon also included stories about earthquake relief efforts and other commentary from CNN’s Anderson Cooper, along with Ben Stiller, Brad Pitt, Chris Rock, Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Jon Stewart, Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hanks and Chris Rock with Muhammad Ali.

Actor George Clooney, who was instrumental in organizing the Hope for Haiti Now project, set the mood for the telethon with a simple message.

“This is a tragedy that reaches across all borders, all boundaries and demands our attention, our help and our compassion as fellow human beings,” he said. “At the core of every religion is the belief that we care for one another … we take care of each other, especially in times of need. The Haitian people need our help. They need to know that they’re not alone. They need to know that we still care.

“This is an opportunity to help a neighbor in desperate need and to do it with the swiftness, expertise, generosity and love that resides in the best of who we are.”

Donations to Hope for Haiti Now can be made via the following methods:


Phone: (877) 99-HAITI

Text: Text “GIVE” to 50555

Mail: Hope for Haiti Now Fund, Entertainment Industry Foundation, 1201 West 5th Street, Suite T-700, Los Angeles, CA 90017

View photos from the telethon.
Calvin Gilbert has served as’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.