In an epic gesture of solidarity, gratitude and celebration, Lady Gaga’s One World concert knocked it out of the park earlier today in an eight-hour event which saw Celine Dion, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Jimmy Fallon and the Roots, The Rolling Stones (in split-screen of course), Paul McCartney and more voice their support for health workers and support services during the COVID-19 crisis.
Gaga has already proven herself a vocal and dedicated supporter of front-line workers – at the time of announcing the concert in early April, she’d already raised $35 million for the World Health Organisation and asserted that the One World event was an expression of gratitude rather than a money-collecting effort – and One World proved how bona fide her wish to spread connection and recognition really is.
“I care so much about all of the medical workers who are putting their lives at risk for us right now – I think of them every day, I pray for them every day – and I’m also thinking of all of you who are at home, who are wondering when this is all going to be different,” Gaga said in her opening remarks.
“What I’d like to do tonight is just give you the permission, if I can – for a moment …” upon which she launched into the event’s first offering.
“Smile, though your heart is aching/ Smile, even though it’s breaking…”
And we’re reminded of this woman’s absolutely sterling musical talent.
Gaga was followed by Stevie Wonder who dedicated Lean On Me to the song’s author, and Wonder’s good friend, the late Bill Withers: “During hardships like this we have to lean on each other for help,” said the icon. “My friend, the late Bill Withers, has the perfect song about that. And I want us to remember him tonight.”
Paul McCartney played Lady Madonna, prior to a succinct and moving message which connected the track to the event’s intentions: “I’m very honoured to be part of this programme tonight that celebrates the true heroes: The healthcare workers all around the world,” he said. “As this Covid-19 pandemic is a global crisis, we all have to 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 a crisis like this never happens again.
“My mother Mary was a nurse and a midwife just after and during the Second World War, so I have a lot of time for the doctors, the nurses and all the medical staff who keep us healthy. We love you. Thank you.”
The proceeding performers included Kacey Musgraves (who played her track Rainbow, in acknowledgment of the rainbow drawings children around the world have been pinning up in their front windows to show support for the community), a video message from Beyonce (who spotlighted the fact African-Americans are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19 amongst the US populace: “Please protect yourselves; we are one family and we need you”), The Stones (who played You Can’t Always Get What You Want via split-screen), Keith Urban (who showed he’s got technical chops by playing Steve Winwood’s Higher Love with two other versions of himself), and Billie Eilish with brother Finneas via their parents’ house in LA, who delivered a gorgeous rendition of Bobby Hebb’s Sunny.
All we can say is: BRAVO. This was one love letter for the ages. Stay safe!