Acts join benefit CD for Australia fire victims

Bruce Springsteen contributes; Sony unit makes donation

BRISBANE, Australia -- Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Andre Rieu, Midnight Oil and Delta Goodrem are among dozens of high-profile artists who have thrown their support behind fundraising efforts for victims of Australia's destructive bushfires.

American superstars Springsteen and Joel along with Aussie acts Midnight Oil, Goodrem and John Farnham have donated songs for a CD, "Bushfire Aid -- Artists for the Bushfire Appeal," which will hit the racks in local stores from early next week. Other artists also confirmed to feature on the compilation are Aussie acts Hoodoo Gurus, John Butler Trio, Wes Carr and Jessica Mauboy.

Proceeds from the sale of the CD will benefit the Salvation Army Bushfire Appeal through the charitable arm of the Australian Sony Group of Companies, the Sony Foundation.

Separately, the affiliated electronics company Sony Australia has pledged AUS$100,000 ($66,000) in a cash donation to the Salvation Army Disaster Appeal and an additional AUS$100,000 worth of vouchers enabling families struck by the bushfires to replaces goods.

"I know everyone in Australia shares deep concern for this tragedy, its horrific toll on life, families, communities and wildlife," said Sony Music Australia and New Zealand chairman/CEO Denis Handlin. "On behalf of Sony Music and the Sony Foundation, our thoughts and prayers are with those affected, and our immense gratitude goes to all the emergency service people and volunteers who have so generously given in this time of need."

The local and international music community's support doesn't stop there.

Rockers the Living End and Jimmy Barnes joined the likes of pop singers Shannon Noll, Kate Ceberano and country stars Lee Kernaghan and John Williamson on stage for a Red Cross bushfire telethon Thursday night.

During the star-studded "Australia Unites" program, Aussie country singer Keith Urban and his wife, Nicole Kidman, donated AUS$500,000 ($330,000). According to broadcaster the Nine Network, the appeal raised more than AUS$21 million ($13.8 million).

Meanwhile, Dutch conductor and showman Andre Rieu has created a song to raise cash for the Red Cross Disaster Appeal. "Yours Forever," written and performed by Rieu with the Johann Strauss Orchestra, will go on sale Wednesday.

"I have always considered Australia to be my second home and I'd like to help in the best way that I can, through music," the Universal Music-signed artist said in a statement. "I believe music has a power to heal like nothing else and I'd like nothing more than to ease the sorrow of the wonderful people in this beautiful land."

The bushfires, which have raged across regions of Victoria, in the south east of the country, have killed at least 181 people over the past week and obliterated more than 1,830 houses, leaving more than 7,000 people homeless. Authorities are calling the crisis the worst natural disaster in the country's history.

As previously reported, Leonard Cohen, Paul Kelly, AEG Live U.K. and the Frontier Touring Company announced a donation of AUS$200,000 ($132,000) to the Red Cross Bushfire Fund. A further AUS$10,307.35 ($6,800) was raised from collection tins passed around Cohen's concert Tuesday at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.