Lenny Kravitz, Ke$ha, Pete Wentz and Sting put the spotlight on the crisis in the Gulf Coast last night, joining up with CNN to raise money for wildlife agencies and those affected by the BP oil spill disaster. Larry King and Ryan Seacrest hosted the telethon, which raised more than $1.8 million for the United Way, National Wildlife Federation and the Nature Conservancy. While President Barack Obama said in a speech last week that he'd personally hold BP responsible for $20 billion of relief for affected residents, as King told the audience last night, the fundraiser was meant to offer immediate help for individuals in urgent need.
Sting brought a heartfelt performance of "Fragile" to the telethon, and India.Arie teamed with Herbie Hancock for a moving rendition of John Lennon's classic "Imagine." American Idol judge Randy Jackson, Aaron Neville, Gavin Rossdale, All-American Rejects' Tyson Ritter, Pete Wentz and Ke$ha all pitched in to thank viewers for their help. Actor Robert Redford, who worked on oil rigs in his youth, also called in via satellite.
Off the airwaves, rockers have also been uniting to amp up awareness about the crisis in the Gulf. Lady Gaga, Rise Against and the Backstreet Boys have joined a movement spearheaded by Korn to stop using BP gasoline in their tour buses this summer. "This is the worst thing that has ever happened to the environment in U.S. history," Korn's Jonathan Davis said in a statement. "From everything we're hearing about now, it's become clear that BP cut corners to put profit ahead of safety. The message we are sending should tell all the oil companies to spend the money and take the necessary precautions to make sure this doesn't happen again."
Last month, a benefit concert initiated by New Orleans' non-profit "jazz and heritage station" WWOZ helped raise more than $300,000 for the Gulf Relief Foundation. John Legend, Lenny Kravitz, Mos Def, Dr. John, Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band all participated in the festival, dubbed Gulf Aid.
For the inside story on the scandal at the heart of the BP disaster, check out Tim Dickinson's "The Spill, the Scandal and the President," which details how Obama failed to crack down on "the world's most dangerous oil company."