Dr. Dre has ponied up $1 million, Britney Spears and Busta Rhymes are joining Sister Sledge's new "Family" and Mariah Carey is coming out of seclusion as musicians of all stripes seek ways to pitch in to the worldwide relief effort for victims of last week's terrorist attacks.
A wide range of artists has been lined up by famed producer, Chic member and disco icon Nile Rodgers to remake Sister Sledge's 1979 hit "We Are Family," which he co-wrote and co-produced.
The New York native said on Tuesday that Britney Spears, Busta Rhymes, 'NSYNC, Run-D.M.C., Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Vanessa Williams, Joan Rivers, Macaulay Culkin, Kevin Bacon and Sister Sledge themselves have all joined the project. The cover tune will be recorded in two sessions one on Saturday in New York and the other on Sunday in L.A. Rodgers said he's still trying to decide which charities should benefit, though he made it clear he wants the money to help the survivors and families of those killed in the WTC disaster.
"I let my heart reach out, and it pointed me in the right direction," Rodgers said. "Everybody I reached out to really just came through."
Rodgers, who said he's working on a different beat for the song and that the all-stars will be singing "a new interpretation," said he has no worries about making harmony between established singers and celebrities who aren't exactly known for carrying a tune.
"There's something I've noticed all my life," he said. "When you walk in a room full of people, and people start singing 'Happy Birthday,' something is really beautiful about that because of the spirit. The vibe is right. We can fix pitch [with studio equipment], but there is no button in the studio to add vibe."
To help do his part, Dr. Dre anted up $1 million to L.A. radio station KPWR-FM (Power 106)'s Power of a Dollar Relief Fund, which benefits the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Tyrese, Fat Joe and Russell Simmons are among those who have pledged funds to New York radio powerhouse WQHT (Hot 97)'s Hip Hop Has Heart Foundation. Both those efforts are part of a joint venture with the stations' parent company, Emmis Communications (see "Musicians From Madonna To Godsmack Pledge Aid").
Mariah Carey will emerge from seclusion to join the cause on the televised event "America: A Tribute to Heroes" (see "Mariah Carey To Resurface For 'America' TV Tribute"). Hollywood A-listers such as Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Jim Carrey, Tom Hanks and Robert De Niro will be on hand to help solicit charitable donations for victims of the attacks, as will musicians such as Alicia Keys, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Enrique Iglesias, Limp Bizkit, Sting, U2 and Wyclef Jean. The telethon will be broadcast simultaneously on ABC, CBS, NBC and dozens of other network, public television, cable, radio and Internet outlets on Friday at 9 p.m. ET.
Toronto TV station MuchMusic announced Thursday (September 20) that it is organizing a similar, smaller-scale effort. Acts such as Sum 41, Shaggy, Sarah McLachlan and Barenaked Ladies will take the stage for "Music Without Borders." That benefit concert will be broadcast live and commercial-free on MuchMusic and its affiliate outlets as well as on Toronto radio stations CHUM-FM, Edge 102 and Kiss 92 on Sunday from 4-8 p.m. ET. A spokesperson for MuchMusic said they are still trying to finalize the details of which organizations they will be helping.
Jermaine Dupri and Bono have already gathered performers such as Destiny's Child, P. Diddy, Ja Rule, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera and Nelly to record a Dupri-produced remake of Marvin Gaye's classic "What's Going On" (see "Fred Durst, P. Diddy, Aaron Lewis, More Join In On Gaye Remake"). Proceeds from that single were originally destined to help AIDS research in Africa; on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Dupri said that 50 percent of the money from the song will go to the United Way's September 11th Fund, with the other half to be used as originally intended.
Whitney Houston and Arista have already put forth plans to re-release her decade-old rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Houston originally performed it at Super Bowl XXV, in 1991; the single's profits will go to the New York Firefighters Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Fraternal Order of Police Fund (see "Whitney Houston's 'Star-Spangled Banner' To Wave Again").
Meanwhile, Michael Jackson is making progress on his all-star benefit single, "What More Can I Do." Usher, Aaron Carter and country star Reba McEntire have joined the likes of Destiny's Child and Backstreet Boy Nick Carter on Jackson's list of guest artists. A Jackson representative said Britney Spears and 'NSYNC's Justin Timberlake have committed verbally to the song (see "Jackson Taps Britney, More For Song To Help Terrorism Victims"), though a spokesperson for the star couple said their participation is not confirmed.
The Black Crowes, who will kick off the first of three New York performances at the Beacon Theatre on Thursday (September 20), announced they will donate all profits from ticket sales as well as all of the merchandising revenue from the shows. Those funds will be distributed to the New York State World Trade Center Relief Fund and the New York City Public/Private Initiative Inc. The latter helps families of the lost rescuers at the WTC.
On Tuesday, Britney Spears pledged to donate $1 from each ticket she sells during her fall tour of the U.S., as well as profits from merchandising and other tour endeavors, to help the children of police and firefighters lost in the incident at the World Trade Center (see "Britney Spears To Raise Money For Children Of WTC Disaster").
Madonna, Janet Jackson, Maxwell, Incubus and Backstreet Boys are among the entertainers who have already donated proceeds from concert performances to various relief charities (see
For more information on and audience reaction to the attacks, including tips on how you can help, see "9.11.01: Moving Forward."