A Concert for Hurricane Relief
A Concert for Hurricane Relief was an hour-long, celebrity-driven benefit concert broadcast live. Sponsored by the NBC Universal Television Group, its purpose was to raise money, relief, and awareness in response to the loss of life and human suffering that resulted from Hurricane Katrina in five southeastern States in the United States in 2005. Hosted by Matt Lauer, it was simulcast from the New York studios of NBC located in 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York, on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, and i: Independent Television on September 2, 2005.
The benefit generated $50 million and was watched on television by approximately 8.5 million viewers.
Musical guests and presenters
- Matt Lauer intro
- Harry Connick Jr (piano) and Wynton Marsalis (trumpet) with Victor Goines (clarinet), Lucien Barbarin (trombone) and Charles Neville (sax) - performing "Bourbon Street Parade"
- Hilary Swank - presenter
- A piece on what the hurricane did to New Orleans
- Tim McGraw - talks with Matt Lauer - performing "More Power to Ya"
- Richard Gere - presenter
- Tim McGraw - performing "Something Like That"
- Guitar auction starts
- Eriq La Salle and Lindsay Lohan - presenters
- A piece, narrated by Faith Hill
- Faith Hill - performing "There Will Come a Time"
- Glenn Close and John Goodman - presenters
- Aaron Neville - performing "Louisiana 1927"
- New York Governor George Pataki, gave a check for $2.5 million to the Red Cross represented by Bonnie McElveen-Hunter
- A piece by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough
- Harry Connick Jr talking with Matt Lauer
- A piece narrated by Harry Connick Jr
- Harry Connick Jr (piano, voice) with Wynton Marsalis (trumpet) - performing "Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans"
- Mike Myers and Kanye West - presenters
- Chris Tucker - presenter
- Aaron Neville - performing "Amazing Grace"
- Marcia Gay Harden - presenter
- Richard Fairbank, CEO of Capital One, sponsor of the concert, speaking.
- A piece narrated by Jimmy Smits
- Claire Danes - presenter
- A piece by Brian Williams
- Faith Hill - performing "Precious Lord, Take My Hand"
- Leonardo DiCaprio - presenter
- Matt Lauer comes on to encourage viewers to contribute
- Concert's finishing number led by Harry Connick Jr, where close to everyone performed "When the Saints Go Marching In"
Harry Connick Jr
A Concert for Hurricane Relief, was hastily pulled together after New Orleans native musician Harry Connick, Jr. called NBC Universal chairman and CEO Bob Wright personally to offer his services and encourage the network to embrace relief efforts.
Connick's voice was hoarse when he performed at the benefit, after he had been on the air several times live from New Orleans in the last few days, trying to raise awareness of all the help the city and the people there was in need for.
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The concert's most notable moment was rapper Kanye West's controversial statement that President George W. Bush "doesn't care about black people." Controversy arose when Kanye West was presenting, as he deviated from the prepared script, and said:
I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, 'They're looting.' You see a white family, it says, 'They're looking for food.' And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help—with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way—and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!
Mike Myers, with whom West was paired to present, spoke next and continued as normal by reading the script. Once it was West's turn to speak again, he said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people". West's mic was silenced, and Myers turned, visibly shocked by the comment.
The camera quickly cut away to the next segment (with Chris Tucker), but West's comments still reached all of the U.S. George W. Bush would later call it one of "the worst moment in his presidency."
West returned to NBC by performing on Saturday Night Live's 31st season premiere. He performed "Gold Digger", "Touch the Sky" and "Heard 'Em Say". Mike Myers appeared in a skit spoofing the incident during that episode.
A Gibson guitar autographed by the performers and presenters was auctioned off to raise additional funds. The guitar sold for $30,900.