Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga Offer Hope at Musical Event Fighting COVID-19

Getty Images for Global Citizen/Kevin Mazur, Getty Images for Haus Laboratories
Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga

Lizzo, Paul McCartney, Billie Eilish, Niall Horan, Shawn Mendes and The Rolling Stones also made appearances on the digital stream of Saturday's event.

Lady Gaga urged people weathering the coronavirus pandemic to find a way to smile through the pain, while Stevie Wonder encouraged viewers to lean on one another as the superstars kicked off Saturday's all-star event, One World: Together at Home.

The TV special was aimed at fighting the coronavirus and celebrating health care workers on the front lines. Beyoncé made a surprise appearance, thanking "delivery workers, mail carriers and sanitation employees" for their hard work during the pandemic.

"Black Americans disproportionately belong to these essential parts of the workforce that do not have the luxury of working from home," she said. "And African American communities at large have been severely affected in this crisis. Those with pre-existing conditions are at an even higher risk. This virus is killing black people at an alarmingly high rate here in America."

R&B singer Andra Day performed her inspirational anthem "Rise Up"; former One Direction member Niall Horan thanked health care workers and teachers; and pop star Kesha played piano while singing positive lyrics. 

Matthew McConaughey, Jack Black, Heidi Klum, Jason Segel, Tim Gunn, Matthew Bomer and Jameela Jamil also made appearances during the first hour of One World: Together at Home, an eight-hour event broken in two formats: a six-hour stream which began at 2 p.m. ET, followed by a two-hour TV special at 8 p.m. featuring Lady Gaga, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Taylor Swift, Oprah Winfrey and Billie Eilish.

"It’s Kesha from quarantine day 500. I miss my fans so much," the singer said, sitting in front of her fireplace as her cat made noises in the background. "I know that there’s so many people working and not sleeping and sacrificing so much to help figure this out for everyone, and I just think the vulnerability of us all as human beings right now is really showing a really beautiful side to humanity."

After thanking those working on the front lines, she said: "I’m going to do the main thing I know how to do, which is play some music and hopefully this will just brighten your day, maybe just a little bit. That’s my goal."

Gaga, who collaborated with the advocacy organization Global Citizen and the World Health Organization for the event, shared on Instagram her tearful excitement as it began. 

"I love you all so much. I love the world so much," she said on Instagram Live. "I'm so grateful to all the health care workers and the medical workers and all the grocery store workers and delivery people and the postal workers [and] all the other non-profits that are working so hard," Gaga added.

"I just want you to know that this is really a true love letter to all of you all over the world," she continued, "and I hope a reminder to the kindness that's occurring right now."

After Lizzo's performance of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," the singer said, "I love you, we'll get through this together." Among the other performances, Niall Horan performed an acoustic version of "Slow Hands" on guitar; Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello sang Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World"; and Wonder paid tribute to Bill Withers with a cover of "Lean on Me." He then told viewers, "During hardships like this, we have to lean on each other for help."

"I care so much about the medical workers that are putting their lives at risk for us," said Gaga, who performed Nat King Cole's version of the song "Smile." Eilish performed a cover of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny," with her brother Finneas on piano.

The Rolling Stones also performed — with each member in their respective location — "You Can't Always Get What You Want." And McCartney sang The Beatles’ "Lady Madonna" and talked about the work his mother did as a nurse, while photos of health care workers were shown on the screen.

For the first time ever, Taylor Swift sang her emotional ballad "Soon You'll Get Better," a song from her recent Lover album, written in honor of her mother, who is battling cancer. 

The event was not a fundraiser and instead asked viewers to support the Together at Home campaign, launched by Global Citizen and WHO in response to the outbreak. Global Citizen will donate all net proceeds from the sale of Together at Home merchandise to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization, powered by the UN Foundation.

Following the event, Global Citizen indicated that $127 million has been committed in support of health care workers and the fight against COVID-19.

World renowned pianist Lang Lang, country singer Maren Morris, rock performer Hozier, British star Rita Ora and Emirati singer Hussain Al Jassmi also performed during One World: Together at Home. The six-hour stream, which aired on YouTube, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other digital platforms, also included videos focused on health care workers on the front lines fighting the spreading coronavirus. It also aired a package of people getting married — some in front of their homes, others inside — during the pandemic.

The stream also included performances and appearances from Samuel L. Jackson, John Legend, Annie Lennox, Common, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jacky Cheung, Jennifer Hudson, Michael Bublé, Juanes and The Killers.

The TV special, curated by Gaga, aired simultaneously on ABC, NBC, CBS, iHeartMedia and Bell Media networks. It also featured Elton John, Jennifer Lopez, David and Victoria Beckham, Alicia Keys, Ellen DeGeneres, Pharrell Williams, Eddie Vedder, Kerry Washington, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Celine Dion, Lizzo, J Balvin and Andrea Bocelli. Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel served as hosts.