UPDATED, with new fundraising figures: At virtual concert for Joe Biden on Sunday, John Legend and Andra Day performed a socially distanced duet of Greatest Love Of All, a chorus and Kristin Chenoweth sang numbers with specially written campaign lyrics, and Barbra Streisand delivered eight minutes of closing remarks that were both an endorsement of the candidate and a sharp rebuke of Donald Trump.
“Let’s face it, Trump is unfit, mentally and morally, to hold this distinguished office,” Streisand said.
The fundraising concert marked 100 days until the election, but it also may have been a preview for what next month’s Democratic National Convention will feel like, as the plans are for a dramatically scaled down in-person gathering in Milwaukee mean virtual connections throughout the country.
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Sunday’s event, produced by Bruce Cohen and Claire Lucas, was called Celebration for Change. As Donald Trump has tried to characterize as his opponent as a doddering and even senile, the lineup of celebrities who spoke repeated a number of times how he would be a figure of “change,” especially on issues of racial justice and inclusion. Those who made short remarks included Julianne Moore, Rob Reiner, Lee Daniels, Ivory Aquino, Dustin Lance Black, Andy Cohen, Rory Wheeler, along with political figures such as Hillary Clinton, Pete Buttigieg, Tammy Baldwin, Cedric Richmond and Kamala Harris.
Jay Leno, the emcee, said that just over $760,000 was raised via small-dollar contributions. By Monday, that figure had risen to almost $800,000 and more than 13,000 individual donors, according to a source. The event also drew 1.2 million views on Facebook.
Save for clips from a 2016 episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, Biden himself did not appear.
Stephen Schwartz created some of the original music, which began with a large Zoom chorus of a song with Biden-themed lyrics. Example: We need compassion and humanity. We need competence and sanity. ..Get our country back on track, and help Joe go all the way.
Later, Kristin Chenoweth performed a more satirical song that had lyrics mocking Trump’s version of what makes a person popular: I’ll tell you what ties to wear. Maybe dye your hair. Everything that really counts to be popular. You’re going to be popular. You see I’m adorable. A deplorable. Well Joe, you can be that too. Be like me, and let’s turn all of those red states blue.
Other performances came from Sara Bareilles, who sang Brave; The War and Treaty, who performed Power to the People and Five More Minutes; Adam Lambert, who sang Ready to Run; and Dave Matthews, who performed Singing from the Windows.
Democrats have for years enjoyed a big advantage in showbiz support — and that’s even more the case given the level of Hollywood disdain for Trump. Republicans have long tried to turn that into a negative and tarnish them as beholden to an out-of-touch Hollywood elite.
Even so, back in 2016, Clinton’s campaign drew heavily on entertainment, at the smoothly produced convention and on the campaign trail. The concert showed that more than a few entertainment figures are ready and willing to do the same for Biden — and with plenty to say about Trump.
Streisand, who did not sing, said, “A few weeks ago, Trump called out the troops against peaceful protesters. That is what cowards to when they are scared. Donald Trump has failed us. And we cannot survive four more years of his incompetence we’re feeling right now. [Biden] will listen to people rather than greeting them with guns. All they want is justice. It’s as simple as that.”
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