From John Legend to Jennifer Hudson: 6 of Music's Top Charity Performers

1:42 PM 7/14/2019

by Falen Hardge

Leona Lewis, Pharrell Williams and Chloe x Halle also are among the singers who often step up to benefit a cause.

Leona Lewis, John Legend and Jennifer Hudson
Leona Lewis, John Legend and Jennifer Hudson
Getty Images

Each year, musical artists from all genres use their voices to give back and show support for causes that range from animal rights to hunger, mental illness, veterans and the homeless. The late Aretha Franklin performed at many events during her musical career to demonstrate her dedication to philanthropy, from 2003's Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy party, where she sang with Alicia Keys and Justin Timberlake, to Elton John’s 25th anniversary AIDS Foundation gala in 2017, when she sang “I Say a Little Prayer." Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, whose recent performances have supported disadvantaged youth, disaster relief, human rights, education and poverty, is often cited as an industry stalwart. (Martin is set to perform in the South of France at Midsummer Party for Elton John's AIDS Foundation on July 24, 2019.) But who really are the leading voices in charitable shows in recent years? Here, after a deep dive into Hollywood's most visible charities, are the top performers who contributed their services most often over the last two years.    

  • Jennifer Hudson

    Jesse Grant/Getty Images

    The Oscar winner has performed twice at the Clive Davis pre-Grammy gala, which honors a musical artist for philanthropic endeavors, in 2017 at L.A.’s Beverly Hilton hotel and in 2018 at Sheraton New York Times Square. Also in 2018, she graced the stage at will.i.am's i.am. angel Foundation Trans4m Gala that benefits college scholarships and STEM education; wowed the audience during the 42nd annual Saban Community fundraiser, which promotes access to healthcare; and performed at the ACLU SoCal Benefit to defend constitutional rights.

    CHARITY COUNT: 5

  • John Legend

    Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

    In 2018, Legend sang at Dodger Stadium for the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Blue Diamond Gala, raising nearly $2.2 million to revive baseball in inner cities. That same year he performed at NYC’s Carnegie Hall for the Good + Foundation’s “An Evening of Comedy + Music” benefit to support families in poverty. This January, Legend worked the 12th annual Art of Elysium Heaven Gala, which benefits artists, and in May, he celebrated efforts to end hunger at NYC’s Cipriani 42nd Street for City Harvest’s 35th anniversary gala, raising $4 million to provide 14 million meals to New Yorkers.

    CHARITY COUNT: 4

  • Leona Lewis

    Bryan Steffy/Getty Images

    In March, Lewis sang a duet with Miguel at the Keep Memory Alive’s 23rd annual Power of Love gala in Las Vegas to fundraise for Cleveland Clinic Nevada. Weeks later, she performed at the To the Rescue! Los Angeles Gala at Paramount Studios presented by the Humane Society, where $1 million was raised to end animal cruelty. In 2017, Lewis worked at the 5th annual Save the Children Illumination Gala at NYC’s American Museum of Natural History. 

    CHARITY COUNT: 3

  • David Foster

    Michael Kovac/Getty Images

    Oscar-nominated composer Foster supports the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, as well as civil rights and veterans, among other causes. In 2017 and 2018, he was a musical guest at the WildAid Gala in Los Angeles, to benefit the fight against the illegal wildlife trade, which raised a combined $4.3 million. In October of 2018, he acted as the musical director in Beverly Hills at the Children’s Diabetes Foundation's Carousel of Hope gala.

    CHARITY COUNT: 3

  • Pharrell Williams

    Erika Goldring/Getty Images

    The triple threat performed in 2018 at the From Paris With Love gala to support Children’s Hospital Los Angeles that raised $5.5 million. He sang “Get Lucky” and “Happy” and danced onstage with a CHLA patient. On Nov. 1, 2018, he attended the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Western gala, where proceeds topped $60 million to benefit Israel Defense Forces.

    CHARITY COUNT: 2

  • Chloe x Halle

    Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

    An up-and-comer on the philanthropic scene, this R&B duo rocked the house at Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy party in 2019, where they paid tribute to Aretha Franklin during a rendition of “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.” In 2017, the group performed at the annual Women of Excellence gala presented by Ladylike Foundation, with proceeds benefitting scholarships for inner-city girls in Los Angeles.

    CHARITY COUNT: 2

    This story first appeared in the July 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.