Song-Filled Hurricane Specials a Tsunami of Relief

Stevie Wonder performs during the "Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief" special

Stevie Wonder provides song and climate change commentary on the Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief special. (Photo: Kevin Mazur / Hand in Hand – Getty Images)

In the wake of the Hand in Hand hurricane relief telethon raising $44 million, Live Nation has scheduled Harvey Can’t Mess With Texas: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief, to benefit the Rebuild Texas Fund. Airing on 11 TEGNA-group stations across the state, Can’t Mess with Texas will feature performances by Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Leon Bridges and Lyle Lovett, among others, airing Friday, Sept. 22.

Charlie Sexton will serve as music director, with Asleep at the Wheel sitting in as the house band. Tickets for the four-hour live concert will go on sale today at 3:00pm CT at www.RebuildTX.org , with prices ranging from $30-$199. The concert, which will air uninterrupted, will stream live globally on YouTube, and the organizers credit YouTube owner Google by making the benefit possible by providing distribution as well as matching the first $500,000 of donations.

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, McConaughey, Dan Rather, Renée Zellweger and Luke Wilson have also committed their support. TEGNA president and CEO Dave Lougee said the special’s broadcast footprint will reach 80% of the state. TEGNA stations airing the broadcast concert include: WFAA, Dallas; KHOU, Houston; KVUE, Austin; KENS, San Antonio; KBMT, Beaumont; KCEN, Waco-Temple-Bryan; KAGS, College Station; KIII, Corpus Christi; KYTX, Tyler; KIDY, San Angelo; and KXVA, Abilene. TEGNA is producing the broadcast in partnership with Debra Davis Productions. Austin-based C3 Presents will proudly produce the live event with all services donated.

Proceeds will benefit Rebuild Texas Fund which was created by Texas natives Michael and Susan Dell  and their Dell Foundation in collaboration with the OneStar Foundation. The focus areas of the fund include: health and housing; schools and child care; workforce and transportation; and capital for small businesses. The Dells are working to raise a total of $100 million for the long-term relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts for all affected communities in Texas. “For us, this is personal,” Susan Dell said. “This fund was created to help rebuild all of the communities – big and small – that have been devastated by Hurricane Harvey. We will be rebuilding for years to come,” Michael Dell added.

Meanwhile, Tuesday night’s Hand in Hand telethon roadblocked on the big four broadcast networks has raised $44 million, including a $5 million donation from Apple. A total of $14 million was raised during the one-hour program, Sept. 12, whose constellation of celebrities included Stephen Colbert, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Beyoncé and Justin Bieber, to name a few.

Usher and Blake Shelton perform for "Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief"

Usher and Blake Shelton perform from the Grand Ole Opry for Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief, which raised $44 million. (Photo: John Shearer / Hand in Hand – Getty Images)

Contrary to the gag-order reportedly imposed by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency secretary Scott Pruitt, global warming did not go unmentioned. Stevie Wonder, who led the telecast with a cover of Bill Withers’ classic “Lean on Me,” opined, “Anyone who believes there is no such thing as global warming must be blind… or unintelligent.” The telecast had a socially progressive theme it will be interesting to see if prevails on the TEGNA/Texas-specific show. “Natural disasters don’t discriminate. They don’t see if you’re an immigrant, black or white, Hispanic or Asian, Jewish or Muslim, wealthy or poor,” Beyoncé said, as reported by ABC News. “It doesn’t matter if you’re from [Houston neighborhoods] Third Ward or River Oaks, we’re all in this together.” Global warming did not go unmentioned,   reported ABC News, detailing how Stevie Wonder, who led the telecast with a cover of Bill Withers’ classic “Lean on Me,” opined, “Anyone who believes there is no such thing as global warming must be blind… or unintelligent.”

Other musical performers included Dave Matthews (who sang “Mercy”) Usher and Blake Shelton (teaming for a duet of “Stand By Me”) and “Despacito” singer Luis Fonsi (harmonizing with Tori Kelly onLeonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”).  Brad Paisley, Demi Lovato, Darius Rucker and CeCe Winans raised their voices together for a rendition of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends,” while George Strait performed “Texas” with Miranda Lambert and Chris Stapleton.

Across the four networks, Hand in Hand drew 15.7 million total national viewers according to the Nielsen overnights.

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