Last year's "American Idol" champ, Kris Allen, paid a return visit to his old haunt Thursday night (February 25) to discuss his recent trip to earthquake-ravaged Haiti and perform on the show without being judged for the first time since his surprise win.
Allen visited Haiti last week with the United Nations Foundation, and upon his return, he recorded a cover of the legendary Beatles ballad "Let It Be," which he performed Thursday in front of footage from his trip. "There's a lot of devastation, a lot of destruction ... but there's a lot of hope, there's a lot of organizations there that are building things back, and I think it's going to be better than it was," Allen said about the conditions on the island.
One of the big concerns now, Allen said, is the upcoming rainy season. "The rainy season is actually bad, because it comes, and there's not a lot of shelter now, and the shelter they do have is not very waterproof," he said. "And with water comes diseases and all that stuff, it's really bad. So they need a lot of help, for sure."
Allen's performance of "Let It Be" was immediately available on iTunes after the show, with all proceeds going to Haiti relief. Viewers were also encouraged to go to AmericanIdol.com to make credit-card donations or to text the word "Idol" to 20222 and reply "yes" when prompted to donate $10.
Over footage of the destruction in Haiti and his time spent helping children on the island, Allen stood in a stark spotlight center stage, strumming his acoustic guitar and singing an emotional cover of the iconic rock ballad to the accompaniment of a grand piano.
Before taking the stage, Allen talked to MTV News about how he hit upon covering the Beatles classic for the project. "It was actually because we were looking through [my] album and we were like, 'What song could we sing?' We can't sing 'Live Like We're Dying,' " he explained of the single from his debut album. "And I didn't feel like I connected with anything else that would inspire people to give something. ... So I was like, 'What can I do that would be moving to somebody?' And my friend Cale [who played piano with Allen during the performance] actually was like, 'What if you did "Let It Be?" ' I feel like it would be a really moving kind of thing."
Allen said the song has always touched him, whether it was the 1970 original from the band's final studio album or the version in the 2007 Beatles tribute movie "Across the Universe." "That song has so much power," he said.
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