LOS ANGELES – Billie Eilish sang on her sofa, Elton John played a keyboard belonging to his children, and the Backstreet Boys sang in harmony from five locations as dozens of musicians put on a fundraiser for the warriors against a coronavirus.
Those who performed from their homes for the “I Heart Living Room Concert for America” also included Mariah Carey, Camila Cabello, Alicia Keys, Shawn Mendes and Sam Smith.
The one-hour show, broadcast on Fox television without commercials, was the biggest joint effort in the pandemic to lift spirits, raise money for those in the frontlines, and remind Americans to wash their hands and keep their distance.
“There’s doctors, nurses and scientists on the frontlines. They’re living proof that most superheroes don’t wear capes,” said John, who hosted the show from his kitchen.
“We hope this bit of entertainment can feed and fuel your souls.”
All the performances and appearances by celebrities ranging from comedian Ellen DeGeneres to R&B artist Lizzo and country singer Tim McGraw were filmed on phones, home cameras or online platforms.
The songs were interspersed with short personal stories from nurses, doctors, truckers, grocery staff, and other essential workers as millions of Americans entered a third week subjected to orders to stay home.
Dr Elvis Francois, a surgeon from Rochester, Minnesota, stole hearts on social media with an emotional rendition of “Imagine” performed in medical scrubs.
“Did this doctor just out sing every artist that’s performed?” one viewer, Ender Wiggins, asked on Twitter.
The concert, also broadcast on iHeart radio stations nationwide, urged listeners to donate to charities Feeding America, and First Responders Children’s Foundation.
The amount raised was not immediately known, but more than $1 million was donated in the first 10 minutes, courtesy of $500,000 from household goods giant Procter & Gamble and a matching sum from Fox Television.
“My heart goes out to people who have lost loved ones and also those who are losing their jobs,” said Lady Gaga, clad in pink sweatpants and a hoodie.
Alicia Keys, singing “Rise Up,” Dave Grohl performing “My Hero,” and Billie Joe Armstrong’s acoustic version of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” spoke to the hardships of millions of those working or laid off as stores, restaurants, gyms and movie theaters have shut down.
“After we come out of this horrible thing, I hope we are nicer to each other, and fairer to one another,” John said.