January 7, 2005
PARIS - Hip-hop rhymers, classical orchestras, church choirs, punk bands and creamy-voiced crooners from Paris to Hong Kong are taking up the fund-raising theme for victims of the Asian tsunami, holding money-raising concerts and singing special songs.
Ever since the 1980s African famine relief hit "We Are the World" and its Band Aid predecessor "Do They Know It's Christmas?" support from musicians has been part of charity fund-raising.
But the response to the tsunami has been huge.
In Norway alone, dozens of benefit concerts are planned. In its oil capital, Stavanger, groups scheduled a free show Thursday, with cash to be raised through the sale of a single entitled "The Time is Now."
"It's about solidarity with people," popular Norwegian bluesman Reidar Larsen told reporters. "If you have the chance to help people in need, most will turn out, whether auto mechanics or artists."
Hong Kong heartthrob Nicholas Tse sang the popular tune "Chinese People" to a nearly full house of about 6,000 people who waved glow sticks, clapped and sang along at a charity concert on Thursday at the Workers' Gymnasium in Beijing.
Also on Thursday, top Finnish rock stars held a fund-raising concert at one of Helsinki's most popular halls, collecting money for the Red Cross crisis fund.
In the United States, singer Willie Nelson agreed to headline a benefit concert Sunday in Austin, Texas. The "Tsunami Relief Austin to South Asia" concert will include performances by Patty Griffin, Spoon, Joe Ely, Alejandro Escovedo, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis.
"I started at the top," musician Michael Hall said of his first call to build a lineup, "and when Willie said, `Count me in,' I knew we were off and running."
In Britain, longtime DJ Mike Read said he lined up Band Aid veteran Boy George and pop musician Cliff Richard to record a benefit version of Read's "Grief Never Grows Old."
Avril Lavigne, Sum 41 and Sarah McLachlan are among Canadian artists lined up for a brace of charity concerts in Calgary and Vancouver at the end of the month.
Proceeds from an annual benefit concert hosted by German President Horst Koehler at the Berlin Philharmonic will go for victims of the tsunami, his office said Thursday.
In Paris, tickets went on sale for an additional day of concerts at a popular music festival this month, featuring a who's-who of French music celebrities, with funds destined for the Red Cross.
Over the weekend, hot Danish names like rising pop star Tue West and trendy rappers Jokeren and Nik & Jay were to hit airwaves for a daylong telethon in Denmark.
Hong Kong pop legend Andy Lau and other stars took part in fund-raiser last weekend that took in more than $6.2 million. German punk rockers Die Toten Hosen donated proceeds from a concert in Berlin to Doctors without Borders, raising $200,000 from concertgoers and radio listeners.
Others gave without performing. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra said it will donate $136,000 to the World Health Organization to help provide drinking water to tsunami survivors.