One World: together at home
“Where words fail, music speaks” — H.C. AndersonM
With the danger of many of us overdosing on media coverage of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, the charity Global Citizen produced a music festival — One World: Together at Home.
The production, which involved some 100 artists, celebrated essential workers and supported the World Health Organisation. The eight-hour event last Saturday included six hours of webcasting, with the final two being simulcasted prime-time on ABC, CBS and NBC.
Geared to foster a greater sense of global solidarity, it captured the reality of billions of people sheltered in place to “flatten the curve”. The festival’s timing, proved to be serendipitous, given President Donald Trump’s shameless act on April 14 of ending US contributions to the WHO — much to the chagrin of fellow world leaders.
The cast included artists — some of them industry — along with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom and two former American first ladies, Michelle Obama and Laura Bush.
Medical professionals on the front lines from various jurisdictions told moving, nutshell versions of their stories.
The formal theme was supplemented by an old-school slogan: “Think Globally, Act Locally” — demonstrated in communities around the world.
The webcast’s hosts included noted actor Don Cheadle. He seamlessly linked the intimate and sometimes gritty performances with informational segments. This while highlighting the significance of the contributions made by so many heroic individuals and organisations — notably the WHO.
During the conclusion of the webcast-segment, Lady Gaga, with a studious persona, explained the international event’s purpose. Jennifer Hudson, accompanied by a soulful pianist, closed out the webcast with the song Hallelujah in her own inimitable style. Her backing vocal trio — all sheltering in place separately — helped Hudson make that classic her own.
Lady Gaga opened the primetime period, accompanying herself on her grand piano from her home, with the iconic tune Smile. This segment was co-hosted by the late-night hosts of the three major networks: the two Jimmies and Colbert, from their respective homes.
They succeeded, walking the thin line between celebrating great bravery in the face of massive challenge and light humour.
Stevie Wonder, the dean of global campaigns, opened with the late Bill Withers’s classic Lean on Me — reminding the audience that some times in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow.
Wonder then segued into his own classic Love’s in Need of Love Today — accompanying himself on his baby grand piano.
Paul McCartney explained that his mother, Mary, was a nurse, leading to his deep appreciation for those caregivers, before accompanying himself in a funky version of Lady Madonna. This Sixties classic provided the backdrop for a pictorial montage of frontline medics from around the world.
Other icons included Elton John, playing his grand piano in his garden, pounding out his anthem, I’m Still Standing. The Rolling Stones offered a reminder with their classic You Can’t Always Get What You Want.
Lizzo, a young woman whose voice is as big as her smile, captured the deep soulfulness of Sam Cook’s standard A Change is Going to Come with a sense of hopefulness that permeated the global event.
A performance highlight was a rendition of The Prayer, including Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, Lady Gaga and John Legend, accompanied on the piano by the super-expressive Lang Lang. The beautiful reverence of these blended voices petitioned hauntingly: “Guide us through your grace …”
Of course, there was much more in the way of beautiful artistry on display, as well as a number of brief messages from a list of champions, including Beyoncé, Alicia Keyes, Oprah Winfrey and the real heroes and heroines on the ground.
The spirit of the production — “Think Globally, Act Locally” — is evident, from east to west, including Bermuda.
There are many examples, including:
• Senior schools, private and public, collaborating to make face masks and shields for medical staff
• Residents making and donating face masks
• Carika Weldon, Sergio Pitcher and Kim Tankard, volunteering with two innovative, online learning opportunities for primary and middle-schoolers
• The Royal Gazette’s special section, Waiting Together, which is a boon to sheltering families
• The scores of people volunteering across the island to ensure meals are available for the most vulnerable
• Glenn Fubler represents Imagine Bermuda
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