The Lady Gaga-curated special featured riveting musical performances and touching messages from stars like Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey, Celine Dion, John Legend, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Lizzo and many more!
It was a powerful night of community and charity, but without a toll-free number or a call for action from America. Lady Gaga, who curated the "One World: Together at Home" special, did all the fundraising legwork before the special aired because she knows many Americans are cash-strapped right now.
As such, this was just a night of joy and tribute to all those working the "front lines" of the coronavirus pandemic. By the time the special began, hosted by the late-night trio of Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel, Gaga and company had already raised nearly $50 million.
The special featured powerful and moving musical performances from a star-studded lineup including Stevie Wonder, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Billy Joe Armstorng, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, John Legend, Sam Smith, Keith Urban, Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.
But there were also appearances by other stars including Beyonce, Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong’o, Pharrell, Amy Poehler, Idris Elba and former First Ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush in a joint statement of solidarity and unity.
In a moving speech, Oprah Winfrey called healthcare workers "the best of us," adding, "We need to ensure that governments around the world step up now and provide the health care workers with the equipment, with the funds, with the support they need."
She spoke about the fight in South Africa, while quoting Nelson Mandela, as a call for all of us to step up and do what’s right. "Tonight, we stand as one world, united in our fight to rid the world of this disease and to ensure that nothing like this even happens again," she said. "And when and if it does, we will be ready."
Beyonce’s appearance was a welcome surprise for viewers, though she came with a strong and important message about the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on black communities in America.
"To those in the food industry, delivery workers, mail carriers, and sanitation employees who are working so that we can be safe in our homes, we thank you for your selfless service," she said. "Black Americans disproportionately belong to these essential parts of the workforce that do not have the luxury of working from home."
"This virus is killing black people at an alarmingly high rate here in America," she said urging them to "Please protect yourselves. We are one family. We need you. We need your voices, your abilities and your strength all over this word. I know it’s very hard but please be patient, stay encouraged, keep the faith, stay positive, and continue to pray for our heroes."
You can check out the full event in the video above, or some of the performance highlights below:
Jimmy Fallon & The Roots, "Safety Dance"
We’ll kick things off with this fun COVID-19 twist on a classic song. Not only did Fallon and The Roots shake up the lyrics to be more reflective of our pandemic world, but they switched up their classroom instruments schtick for more relevant handwashing techniques and other cleaning tricks.
Lady Gaga, "Smile"
Gaga kicked off the show herself with a message and a permission for all of us to take a moment during this and feel something perhaps different, perhaps forgotten these past several weeks.
"I care so much about all of the medical workers who are putting their lives at risk for us right now," she said. "I think of them every day, I pray for them every day."
"And I’m also thinking of all of you that are at home who are wondering when this is all going to be different," Gaga continued. "What’I’d like to do tonight, if I can, is just give you the permission to, for a moment, smile.
Taylor Swift, "Soon You’ll Get Better"
Taylor Swift offered up a new live performance of her own haunting "Soon You’ll Get Better," with lyrics surprisingly resonant for a global pandemic. Her performance was understated and shy, as if she was struggling with the emotions of the song, the atmosphere and really everything.
Seriously, she only looked up at the camera for a few seconds throughout the entire piece. And yet, she didn’t fail to connect beautifully to the lyric and even to the audience. It was a powerfully quiet and breathy rendition that sits with you long after she finished.
Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, Lady Gaga, Lang Lang & John Legend, "The Prayer"
One of the most powerful performances of the night was a stunning collaboration between some of the biggest voices and talents in the music industry.
We were thrilled already with Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli’s soaring vocals, but then Lady Gaga and John Legend threw their talent into the mix, while Lang Lang held it all together on the ivories. This was like a grand finale, had this been a stage production, it was that impressive.
Paul McCartney, "Lady Madonna"
The son of a nurse and midwife, McCartney is passionate about the importance of healthcare workers in general, much less their key role during a global pandemic. And he’s just as passionate that they need our support now and in the future when this crisis passes.
I’m very honored to be part of this program tonight that celebrates the true heroes, our health care workers all around the world," he said at the top of his presentation. "As this COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis, we have to all come together to fight it on a global scale. Let’s tell our leaders that we need them to strengthen the healthcare systems all around the world so that a crisis like this never happens again."
He then flanked video of his understated and moving performance of "Lady Madonna" with images of medical professionals, scrubbed up and ready to risk their lives to try and save others.
Jennifer Lopez, "People"
"There’s one thing that I realize more than anything during this whole time and it’s how much we all need each other," Jennifer Lopez said before launching into an incredibly soaring take on Barbra Streisand’s "People."
Seriously, anyone who has argued that J.Lo isn’t that great of a singer needs only tune in right here and they’ll have to rethink everything. Of course, because this is J.Lo, we didn’t get just a living room performance, either. Sitting by a tree strung up with gorgeous lights, this was professionally filmed so it was as stunning visually as her vocals.
Elton John, "I’m Still Standing"
David and Victoria Beckham offered up sincere thanks and appreciation for all the healthcare workers fighting so hard for everyone as part of a heartfelt introduction to Elton John’s iconic and empowering anthem to a nation that might be struggling emotionally during these tumultuous times.
“This is for everybody out there who’s been working on the front line 24/7,” he said before launching into his classic track. “Thank you for all your expertise, your love, your care, your humanity. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
The Rolling Stones, "You Can’t Always Get What You Want"
We love that the Rolling Stones was able to unite the whole band for their performance, coming together from four different homes to bring one of their most iconic songs — with a very meaningful title in these times — to glorious life.
As much as we love Mick Jagger’s vocals, the Rolling Stones has always been about these four guys coming together to create magic, so it’s great that the magic of technology allowed all four of them to be together for this special event. And seriously, only Charlie Watts could make that drum setup work. We’re dying!
John Legend & Sam Smith, "Stand By Me"
With a duet flanked by their Grammy awards, Legend and Smith proved why they are two of the most powerful voices in entertainment as they took one of music’s all-time classics.
With effortless vocals, they took the song to new heights of passion while spreading a message of hope and solidarity together, even if we must remain apart.
Stevie Wonder, "Lean on Me" & "Love’s in Need of Love Today"
What more do we need to say? Paying tribute to Bill Withers, who passed away earlier this month, Stevie Wonder proved that his incredible voice only gets silkier and more powerful with age.
This was a masterclass in professionalism and poise, not to mention just an awe-inspiring moment in the presence of true greatness honoring true greatness.
Lizzo, "A Change Is Gonna Come"
Lizzo showed her soulful side with a stunning rendition of Sam Cooke’s "A Change Is Gonna Come." Her soaring vocals were a reminder of her versatility and power as a singer.
She closed her performance with a message to her fans. "Thank you to everyone staying home, keeping themselves safe," she said. "I love you. We got this. We’ll get through this together."
Billie Eilish & Finneas, "Sunny"
Eilish and her brother tried to make us feel good with a song that has always been able to get Billie there delivered in her signature breathless, soft style.
"Sending our love to you, and I want to thank all the healthcare workers risking their lives to save ours," Eilish said upon concluding her performance. "Thank you guys so much!”
Keith Urban, "Higher Love"
Keith Urban had some fun on Steven Winwood’s "Higher Love," creating a country vibe on the track with lots of higher energy to match it’s love.
Even better, in his video he managed to circumvent self-isolation by providing his own accompaniment: three guitarists, three vocalists, one Keith Urban.
In his farewell, where he thanks all the healthcare workers on the frontline, Nicole Kidman came out to join just one of him for a moment of surreal sincerity.
Kacey Musgraves, "Rainbow"
Inspired by "seeing everyone’s rainbows in their windows," Musgraves performed her own hit "Rainbow." She also gave a shout-out to the medical professionals "risking their lives."
"I just wanted to say a sincere thank you to all the people out there that are risking their lives to get everyone through this crazy time," she said from her piano before launching into a very sweet and uplifting performance. "Thank you, it means so much to me."
Throughout, she shared images of those rainbows people have put up as a symbol that at the end of every storm comes grace and beauty; a message of hope for these stormy times.
Billie Joe Armstrong, "Wake Me Up When September Comes"
The Green Day front man somehow managed to wring even more heartache and resonance out of their classic hit amid the current climate. One minor correction, though, it somehow feels like we’re still in March … and September feels forever away at this point!
Armstrong echoed the melancholy tone of his performance with haunting images of barren streets and locales around the world as self-isolation has created a world of strange quietness and solitude.
Maluma let his stunning vocals do the talking for him, as he simply launched into his hit from a balcony overlooking one of the most stunning valley views of the entire special.
Seriously, we wouldn’t mind self-isolating with Maluma, wherever he is.
Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello, "What a Wonderful World"
Trying to give Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper a run for their Oscar money, Mendes and Cabello were all goo-goo eyes and saccharine sweetness on a beautiful duet of hope.
And no, they didn’t kiss at the end.
Eddie Vedder, "River Cross"
That signature Pearl Jam wail was on full display even as Vedder reined it in for a gentler performance. Sitting at his piano, this was pure passion and emotion from one of the industry’s best vocalists.
You can check out even more online performances below, with more being added on the Global Citizen official YouTube page:
Kesha’s most personal and passionate song soared again as she brought all of her pain and experiences to this latest performance, which she gave sitting down! It was beautiful, powerful and emotional from start to finish!
Burna Boy, "African Giant" & "Hallelujah"
Performing from Nigeria, Burna Boy shared images of COVID-19’s impact on African nations and cultures, which are largely underrepresented in Western media. This was just a beautiful performance and reminder of the pandemic’s global impact that’s sometimes sorely needed.
Hozier, "Take Me to Church"
Urging everyone to take this virus seriously, Hozier reminded viewers that "this is a pandemic that respects no borders or walls or political persuasions. So it’s something that we all have a responsibility to tackle together."
Annie Lennox, "I Save the World Today"
Before taking to her piano to show us why she is regarded as one of the most iconic voices in popular music, Annie Lennox reminded everyone that there is work to be done yet even after this pandemic is over.
"This unprecedented moment in history, we have a collective responsibility to make sure that global health systems are strong enough to identify and prevent future pandemics before they happen again," she urged.
Charlie Puth, "Attention"
Puth showed his playful side as he returned to his childhood bedroom to offer up one of his biggest hits. Hilariously, he had to take a moment to assure viewers he was actually playing a piano and not just the air, before diving into the song itself with a confident and beautiful vocal.
SuperM, "With You"
In a dramatic departure for fans who are used to seeing SuperM’s high-energy dance moves, the K-pop septet got creative in offering fun visuals from their respective homes throughout this performance.
We saw art creation, a workout, cooking and even Lego creation. There was a fun playfulness between the members that translated throughout this fun performance.
Cassper Nyovest, "Malome"
Black Coffee & Delilah Montagu, "Drive"
Christine and the Queens, "People I’ve Been Sad Lately"
Jessie J, "Flashlight"
Jessie J, "Bang Bang"
Common, "God Is Love"
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