With the coronavirus pandemic effectively slowing the music industry to a halt, countless musicians have attempted to entertain their fans by hosting live-streamed concerts, participating in virtual rap battles and even dropping surprise singles.
However, some are taking it the extra mile by using their influence to raise money for those especially affected by the virus or simply donating themselves. From Rihanna’s hefty donation to victims of domestic abuse to Brad Paisley’s free grocery store in Nashville, here’s how some of music’s biggest names have been giving back.
Lady Gaga has raised a total of $35 million in partnership with Global Citizen to provide protective gear for health workers and develop vaccines, according to a post on her Twitter. She also announced on Monday that she has co-curated One World: Together At Home, a benefit concert that will be live streamed as well as simulcast on ABC, CBS and NBC on April 18. Hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert, the special will feature appearances by Billie Eilish, Chris Martin, David Beckham, Elton John, John Legend, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and of course, Gaga herself.
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) April 7, 2020
U2 has donated $10.9 million to their home country of Ireland to be used for personal protective equipment, according to People. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Twitter that the government has used this money to order an amount of supplies that would typically last the country a decade.
On March 21, Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation announced via Instagram that it would donate $5 million to Partners In Health, Direct Relief, Feeding America, International Rescue Committee, World Health Organization and the country of Barbados in order to combat coronavirus. Furthermore, she provided an undisclosed supply of personal protective equipment to the state of New York and pledged another $1 million along with Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation to support vulnerable populations including undocumented workers, incarcerated people and homeless communities. On Thursday, Rihanna announced that she and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey will each give $2.1 million to the Mayor’s Fund of Los Angeles to support victims of domestic abuse during the safer-at-home order.
Recording Academy and MusiCares
The Recording Academy and its charitable affiliate MusiCares set up a $2 million relief fund for those in the music industry in financial need as a result of coronavirus. Musicians can apply on the MusiCares website and receive a maximum of $1,000.
On April 4, Elton John launched a $1 million relief fund through the Elton John AIDS foundation to ensure that those with HIV can still receive the care they need. “We must keep up our momentum or the results could be disastrous for those living with HIV and other infectious diseases,” John said in his video announcement posted to Twitter.
Today, I’m proud to announce that my Foundation @EJAF is launching a $1million COVID-19 Emergency Fund to make sure that our frontline partners can respond to the effects of COVID-19 on HIV care for the most marginalised communities around the world. pic.twitter.com/g4wh9dnd3d
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) April 4, 2020
After revealing in an Instagram post that she had contracted the virus herself, Pink pledged $500,000 to the Temple University Hospital Emergency Fund and $500,000 to the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Emergency COVID-19 Crisis Fund for a total of $1 million donated. “This illness is serious and real,” Pink said in her post. “People need to know that the illness affects the young and old, healthy and unhealthy, rich and poor, and we must make testing free and more widely accessible to protect our children, our families, our friends and our communities.”
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Two weeks ago my three-year old son, Jameson, and I are were showing symptoms of COVID-19. Fortunately, our primary care physician had access to tests and I tested positive. My family was already sheltering at home and we continued to do so for the last two weeks following the instruction of our doctor. Just a few days ago we were re-tested and are now thankfully negative. It is an absolute travesty and failure of our government to not make testing more widely accessible. This illness is serious and real. People need to know that the illness affects the young and old, healthy and unhealthy, rich and poor, and we must make testing free and more widely accessible to protect our children, our families, our friends and our communities. In an effort to support the healthcare professionals who are battling on the frontlines every day, I am donating $500,000 to the Temple University Hospital Emergency Fund in Philadelphia in honor of my mother, Judy Moore, who worked there for 18 years in the Cardiomyopathy and Heart Transplant Center. Additionally, I am donating $500,000 to the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Emergency COVID-19 Crisis Fund. THANK YOU to all of our healthcare professionals and everyone in the world who are working so hard to protect our loved ones. You are our heroes! These next two weeks are crucial: please stay home. Please. Stay. Home.❤️
Country icon Dolly Parton announced via Instagram April 1 that she would be giving $1 million toward coronavirus research at Vanderbilt University. “My longtime friend Dr. Naji Abumrad, who’s been involved in research at Vanderbilt for many years, informed me that they were making some exciting advancements towards research of the coronavirus for a cure,” Parton shared in her post. She has also written a poem inspired by the virus and made 93 of her classic songs available on all streaming services.
Jay-Z and Meek Mill
On top of the $1 million Jay-Z donated with Rihanna, he also partnered with Meek Mill to give 100,000 masks to prisons across the country, as reported by CBS. Their donation was on behalf of Jay-Z and Mill’s Reform Alliance, an initiative the two launched last year to fight injustice within the prison system.
After his Las Vegas residency was put on hold, Bruno Mars has gifted $1 million to the MGM Resorts Foundation, according to E! News. This money will go to MGM employees who have been laid off as a result of the pandemic.
Cardi B has teamed up with brand Fashion Nova to give away $1,000 every hour to her fans in need until they reach $1 million. The rapper announced her initiative on Instagram April 8, telling her followers to submit an application on Fashion Nova’s website so that she can help “pay bills, feed your families, and take care of your overall essential needs.”
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Thank you guys for supporting me and @FashionNova, I teamed up with them to help those that have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Many of you are struggling to pay bills, feed your families, and take care of your overall essential needs. #FashionNovaCARES & I are giving away $1,000 EVERY HOUR until we’ve given away $1 MILLION DOLLARS to those directly affected by this crisis. Tell us how the $1,000 can help you during these times. We’ll be reading your submissions and selecting stories everyday so enter now by visiting www.FashionNova.com/Cares Also PLEASE make sure that your Instagram is public, because I will also personally be looking thru these submitted pages. Starting NOW!
Celebrated singer-songwriter James Taylor and his wife, Kim Taylor, gave $1 million to Massachusetts General Hospital to aid in their fight against coronavirus. Massachusetts General Hospital is close to Taylor’s heart: he was born at the hospital and his father, Isaac, completed his residency there.
Madonna donated $1 million to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in hopes of helping them fund the creation of a coronavirus vaccine, she announced in a video on her Instagram. “No matter how inconvenienced or put-out we feel, we need to remember that we are alive,” Madonna said. “We need to be grateful and do what we can to help.”
Ciara and her husband Russell Wilson revealed to Jimmy Fallon on April 8 that they have provided 1 million meals to those in need in Seattle via Feeding America. Their “Meals Up” campaign went on to inspire others to give as well, including football stars Tom Brady and JJ Watt, eventually leading to over 10 million meals donated.
The Billy Joel Foundation donated $500,000 to Bethenny Frankel’s BStrong effort to provide healthcare workers in New York state with personal protective equipment. Joel also announced his foundation’s partnership with Long Island Cares on April 7 via Twitter, saying his foundation would gift them freezer units in order to allow for fresher food and perishable items for families in need.
— Billy Joel (@billyjoel) April 7, 2020
Canadian singer Shawn Mendes and his namesake foundation gave $175,000 to the SickKids Foundation in late March. The money will be used for equipment and supplies to aid in Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children’s fight against coronavirus. In addition, all further donations to The Shawn Mendes Foundation for the next month will go to SickKids and the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Response Fund.
Fall Out Boy
Chicago hometown heroes Fall Out Boy revealed in a Facebook post April 3 that they pledged $100,000 to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund. “Chicago is the city that we grew up in. It’s important to us that we give back and support the community and local heroes who are on the front lines any way we can,” Fall Out Boy said in their post. “No act of kindness is too small right now. Check in with the people you love. Support the businesses you love if you can. Stay vigilant and hopeful.”
Country artist and bar owner Dierks Bentley was forced to temporarily close his Whiskey Row bar in Nashville, but promised $1,000 each to his 90 employees for a total of $90,000. In his Twitter announcement, Bentley further encouraged “all bar owners on Lower Broadway to take care of their bartenders, bar backs, waitresses, security, dishwashers etc as best they can. Lower Broadway is the heartbeat of Nashville. Let’s make sure we help the folks that help make the music happen.”
— Dierks Bentley (@DierksBentley) March 16, 2020
BTS member Suga, paired with “Parasite” director Bong Joon-Hoo, gave $82,000 to the Hope Bridge Korea Disaster Relief Association in late February, according to Newsweek. The donation went toward the purchase and distribution of crucial prevention supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer.
Better Than Ezra
Better Than Ezra frontman Kevin Griffin raised $40,700 for MusiCares’ COVID-19 relief fund through a Facebook live stream performance. “I didn’t know Facebook live events had a preference where you could designate a charity that people could donate to during the live stream and see the tally in real time,” Griffin told Variety. “Once I saw how easy and intuitive it was I decided to perform live and donate to MusiCares.”
Before coronavirus hit, Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley already had plans to open up The Store in Nashville, a free grocery store for those experiencing economic need and food insecurity. However, their official opening on March 14 allowed Paisley to help those in need, including delivering a week’s worth of groceries to Nashville’s elderly.
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#Repost @bradpaisley “So, in light of changing times, @thestore_nashville is mobilizing delivery of a week’s groceries to our elderly neighbors in Edgehill and Berry Hill on Wednesdays/Thursdays. If anyone needs to be included on this list, we urge them to contact email@example.com Also We will continue to operate regular hours 1-7 Th/F 11-5 Sat for walk ins but please bring ID and either proof of income, proof of residence, or statement of unemployment for our recently unemployed neighbors. #nashvillestrong”
Oakland native G-Eazy pledged to provide meals to at-risk youth in San Francisco for an entire month in partnership with Larkin Street Youth Services, according to The Mercury News. The rapper is also sponsoring a local Mi Morena food truck that will provide free lunch every day for the next month for those in need.
Former One Direction member Liam Payne announced via Twitter March 27 that he would be supporting over 100 food banks in the Midlands in tandem with The Trussel Trust, providing more than 360,000 meals over the next three months. “Long term, I want to play my part in finding a solution to ensure people have enough money to buy their own food – and end the need for food banks,” Payne said in his post.
No one should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from: not now, not ever. I am donating to @TrussellTrust and if you can help too then please do… Take care, stay at home and look after one another.https://t.co/vi7SInJJGZ pic.twitter.com/NPfPGdvdKy
— Liam (@LiamPayne) March 27, 2020
Music Managers and Execs
On April 7, several of the industry’s biggest managers and executives participated in the #DoYourPart challenge on Instagram live, partnering with Door Dash to raise 256,000 meals to families in need through Feeding America. The event was hosted by G-Eazy’s co-manager Jamil Davis and Post Malone and Tyga’s manager Dre London, with guests including Shawn Mendes’ manager Andrew Gertler, Darkroom Records’ Justin Lubliner, Spotify head of music strategy Jeremy Erlich and Universal Music Group’s Celine Joshua. Alexis Fleischer, founder and CEO of Timeline Management, conceptualized the #DoYourPart campaign and coordinated the livestream.
Pop singer Halsey gave 100,000 masks to Los Angeles hospitals, according to her Instagram. “Every single day I am in awe of the medical workers on the front lines. Their determination, selflessness and empathy is the single greatest example of our capacity to love and survive as humans,” Halsey wrote in her caption. “I am beyond privileged to be self isolating in my home, without the fear and obligation of essential work employment.”
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Every single day I am in awe of the medical workers on the frontlines. Their determination, selflessness and empathy is the single greatest example of our capacity to love and survive as humans. I am beyond privileged to be self isolating in my home, without the fear and obligation of essential work employment. Without a sick family member to care for. A child to feed. A financial crisis to navigate. So I tried to find a real way to make a difference. I have acquired and purchased 100,000 FDA certified 3 ply masks (with the help of Orange International Inc who sourced the masks for me from a factory in Guangzhou, China) These masks will be distributed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Providence Saint Joseph, LAC+USC Medical Center, and Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital; for the medical professionals and non medical hospital staff who are working to put a stop to this pandemic and help millions of strangers they will never meet. Please continue to stay home, if you can. If you are on the frontlines, my heart is with you. And I will be continuing the fight to help you get the support and resources you need. 🤍🤍🤍 I am eager to redirect you to @givedirectly – A non-profit that allows you a way to give direct cash payments to vulnerable households in at risk communities, most of whom are single mothers. I will be making a sizeable donation, and encourage you to help in any way that you can. Special thanks to @anthonytomasli and the Li family, @jasonaron, PS Business Management, @fedex, and all the contacts at the hospitals who made this possible.
Grammy-winning artist Lecrae teamed up with nonprofit Love Beyond Walls on March 19 to distribute and install 15 hand-washing stations throughout Atlanta for the homeless community. “When people living on the street don’t have the means…we should step in to wash their hands,” Lecrae said in an Instagram post sharing photos of his day of service.
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“Do not be dismayed at the brokenness of this world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.” – Knost_ When people living on the street don’t have the means…we should step in to wash their hands. #Setmefree #corona (my man did get a meal btw.)_ This is not the end. #Restoration is coming.