Backstage At Idol Gives Back

Backstage At Idol Gives Back
American Idol Deserves Kudos For Charity Efforts

 

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It’s what Hollywood does best– rises to the occasion, and uses star power to help people in need.

Last year, Fox TV’s phenomenal talent show American Idol had the stars come out to benefit worthwhile charities to make the world a better place. And the recent Idol Gives Back did it again. The final figures have just come in, and $65 million have been raised to help children across the globe.

The Idol Gives Back show had mega-wattage celebrities on stage at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, performing and making pitches for donations. From Hollywood superstars Brad Pitt and Reese Witherspoon, to teen-sensation Miley Cyrus, to the “old school” entertainers, such as Annie Lennox, comics Billy Crystal and Robin Williams.

Mariah Carey sang “Fly Like a Bird” with Idol judge Randy Jackson accompanying her on bass.  The judgmental Simon Cowell said he thought Jackson’s performance was “good,” for a great cause. Paula Abdul explained that Idol Gives Back puts the focus on social problems, and “does a terrific job of raising awareness.”

Idol’s super-likable Ryan Seacrest hosted the star-studded event, which had the seventh-season’s current top finalists open and close the show. But it was the most successful graduate of the “Idol-school of career launching” who stole the show. Carrie Underwood, Idol’s fourth season winner, sang the heart-wrenching “Praying for Time,” generating an ovation from the teary-eyed audience.

Backstage, talking about her emotional performance of the George Michael song, Carrie revealed, “That’s a song I love. I’ve always loved the message. It took me forever to be able to sing it through without crying, and I know, if that song made me feel that way, maybe it will make a few other people feel that way. And maybe it will make them feel strongly about doing something.”

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Carrie said she believes that rising to the occasion “is all about taking the opportunities that are presented in front of you. An opportunity to come here and perform tonight was presented to me, and I took it. So it’s all about the choices we make.”

Carrie made the choice to go to Africa to learn first hand how the charities are helping people. “It’s a wonderful thing to be part of this night. There are so many people pitching in to help. Last year I got to go to Africa, and that was absolutely the most life-changing experience for me.”

John Legend said, “I think it’s a great idea for American Idol, which has so much popularity and so much influence on their audience, to use that power to give back. I think it’s a wonderful thing.” Legend was in fine voice when he did a duet with the lovely Fergie. Then she joined the ’80s band Heart, and performed “Barracuda.”

Thrilled with the crowd’s reaction, Fergie said, “It was so alive out there. It was just three rock chicks having a good time on stage, and doing our thing.” Alive and full of energy, with Fergie doing cartwheels on stage! Yes, really.

Also adding high-energy to the show was the fantastic salsa-songbird Gloria Estefan doing “Get On Your Feet” with another talented lady, Sheila E. keeping rhythm, performing on the conga.

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Gloria proudly said that her grandmother was a great influenced, “and taught me that it is a privilege to help others. She was an amazing humanitarian. I remember from when I was a baby, that she was a woman who helped everyone who came across her path. I think you learn by example, that’s way I’m happy to be here tonight.”

Sheila E. revealed that her mom and dad were great role models for her. “When we were growing up, they would take us to facilities for foster care kids, and we would perform for them. My dad was raised for many years in an orphanage, so he knew what it was like to have someone bring a little joy to your life.”

Kudos to those who make the world a better place.


Frank Barron is the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, having served twice in that capacity. In between, he was West Coast news director for Billboard Publications, supervising their five magazines. Barron also created the western TV series “The Man From Blackhawk” for the ABC network. For more than three decades he and writer-wife Margie Barron have covered Hollywood for Production Update magazine, and they currently contribute to numerous publications. Frank started in showbiz as publicity director for the KHJ radio and television station. Before moving to California, he was a sports editor in New Jersey.

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