Musicians from all walks of Christian music and beyond are responding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which has killed thousands and left entire communities homeless in the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
The Gospel Music Association (GMA), through its disaster-relief initiative Project Restore, is sponsoring a nationally televised benefit concert, to be held September 22 at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park. It will air live on Gospel Music Channel 7-10 p.m. ET and on i (formerly PAX TV) 8-10 p.m. ET.
"The scope of the tragedy in the Gulf Coast is unimaginable and grows more desperate every day," said GMA President John W. Styll. "We must view this as an opportunity to rally the GMA community to offer our prayers and resources as a reflection of the grace and goodness of the gospel. As citizens of this country and as followers of Christ, we must help to bring restoration to the people whose lives have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina."
Check the official Project Restore site for more details as they arise.
In other news about Christian musicians rallying to the cause:
- Third Day started offering their song "Cry Out to Jesus," off of the upcoming album Wherever You Are, as free download on their official website. The band also recorded a public service announcement to be serviced alongside the song to radio stations nationwide.
- Casting Crowns announced that all the proceeds from their October 20 Baton Rouge, La., concert will go to disaster relief. Additionally, radio station WAY-FM and a number of stations across the nation have been airing an edited version of Casting Crowns' "Praise You in the Storm" that includes a montage of Katrina-related audio bits.
- Mark Harris of 4HIM is giving a free concert on September 7, for the 250 evacuees currently living in the First Baptist Church of Robertsdale, Alabama.
- Comedian Mark Lowry and a host of Southern gospel artists—including The Talley Trio, Triumphant Quartet, Kirk Talley, Blackwood Quartet, and Alison Speer—will take part in a benefit show September 27 in Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.
- Last week, a varied lineup including the Crabb Family, Smokie Norful, Vicki Yohe, and Kurt Carr taped a live special in Atlanta for TBN in support of Katrina relief efforts. The program, which included live performances and pleas for donations, also saw the artists encouraging Atlanta residents to open up their homes to those left homeless by the hurricane.
- The Inspiration Network also joined the relief efforts by broadcasting The Concert of Hope, a three-hour fundraiser for disaster victims. INSP also encouraged donations to The Convoy of Hope, which is taking needed food and supplies to the affected areas.
- Indie rock group the Juliana Theory has pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds from of merchandise sales from its official website to the Red Cross.
Meanwhile, some Christian musicians and record companies were among those hit by Katrina:
- New Orleans resident and worship leader Jason Morant (Vertical) lost his home and band equipment to the catastrophe, and has temporarily relocated to Nashville, where he'll also be recording his next album. Morant, Rocketown Records' president Don Donahue, and a group of people from the music industry loaded up a truck of supplies to be sent to Slidell, La., where Morant's sister resides. He's detailing his efforts to help in his own blog.
- Former American Idol contestant George Huff's family's home in New Orleans was destroyed. Huff and 14 of his relatives have in the interim set up shop at his brother's house in Dallas.
- The members of Mute Math, all New Orleans natives, are all fine after evacuating the city. See their blog at their MySpace page for updates.
- The corporate offices of both Integrity Music (home to Don Moen, Israel & New Breed, and Twila Paris, among others), in Mobile, Ala., and Malaco Music Group (home to Dottie Peoples and other gospel music), in Jackson, Miss., both survived the effects of hurricane Katrina without major structural damage.
Mainstream Music Responds
Christian music isn't alone in its response; mainstream musicians and networks too are staging their own relief efforts.
On Sept. 2, NBC and its affiliates broadcast a quickly put-together "Concert for Hurricane Relief" that boasted appearances by Louisiana-bred musicians Harry Connick, Jr., Tim McGraw, and Wynton Marsalis.
On Sept. 9, seven major television networks—ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, WB and UPN—will partner up to air "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast." No performers or presenters have been announced yet, but the hour-long special is set to feature a bevy of celebrities from the worlds of music, film, and television.
Also on Sept. 9, BET will air S.O.S. (Saving OurSelves): The BET Relief Telethon 7:30 - 10 p.m. to raise money for hurricane relief efforts. The gala will include appearances and performances from such urban luminaries as Jay-Z, Diddy, Master P, Omarion, Stevie Wonder, Baby and Li'l Wayne, Chris Rock, Alicia Keys, New Orleans native Wynton Marsalis and many more.
On Sept. 10, the MTV, VH1 and CMT cable networks plus other subsidiaries will air ReAct Now: Music & Relief, a three-hour special featuring more than 30 personalities, including The Rolling Stones, Kelly Clarkson, Kanye West, Maroon 5, Good Charlotte, John Mayer, Dashboard Confessional, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Brian Wilson and many more. The event will raise funds for the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, America's Second Harvest, and other agencies.
On Sept. 12, the Dave Matthews Band will perform at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, with all profits going to charities supporting victims of Katrina. The band staged a similar show in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
On Sept. 17, Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, Wynton Marsalis and Bill Cosby will perform the Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert for Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.
On Sept. 27, country music will stage Country Reaches Out: An Opry Benefit for the American Red Cross. A joint effort between the Grand Ole Opry and the GAC (Great American Country) network, the one-hour, commercial-free special will feature appearances by Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Craig Morgan, Billy Currington, Keith Urban, Julie Roberts, and Marty Stuart.
New Orleans originals Better Than Ezra will donate a portion of their proceeds from their upcoming tour to relief efforts. The group is also organizing a benefit show alongside other New Orleans acts. No details have been announced yet.
Others are donating cash, like vocal diva Celine Dion, rapper Jay-Z, and music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs, all of whom donated $1 million apiece. Additionally, teenaged Disney superstar Hilary Duff donated $250,000 to charities providing Katrina-related help.
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