10 Great Concerts for a Cause – Rolling Stone
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10 Great Concerts for a Cause

From the Festival for Peace to 12-12-12

Paul McCartney

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 21: British pop star Paul McCartney performs on stage alongside other artists at "The Concert for New York City" held at Madison Square Gardens on October 20, 2001 in New York. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

Dave Hogan/Getty

When disaster strikes, whether nature or humanity is the cause, we've come to expect rock stars to respond. And when they do, they've not only raised money and awareness, but have given us surprising collaborations, moving interpretations of familiar songs and ways to collectively process our grief.

Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America is tackling this head-on, raising money for a United Way fund with a concert to be broadcast on A+E Networks (A&E, History, Lifetime, FYI, LMN, H2) on November 20th, 8/7c. Artists on board include Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Pharrell Williams, Miguel, Ed Sheeran, Eric Church, Jill Scott and more. Here are 10 concerts that helped pave the way.

Bono, Jay Z, Rihanna

1/22/10, London, England, UK --- LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: In this handout photo provided by MTV, Bono, Jay-Z and Rihanna perform together on stage at the Hope For Haiti Now concert, a global benefit for earthquake relief, at The Hospital Club on January 22, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/MTV via Getty Images) --- Image by © Pool ./Retna Ltd./Corbis

Dave M. Benett/MTV via Getty

Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief (2010)

Hosted by Wyclef Jean, this January 2010 telethon featured performances in both Los Angeles and New York, as well as reporting from Haiti, where a powerful earthquake had killed more than 200,000 people 10 days earlier. The evening was distinguished by a hefty dose of pre-rock material: Mary J. Blige and the Roots performing the old Stephen Foster tune "Hard Times Come Again No More," John Legend singing "Motherless Child" and Bruce Springsteen playing "We Shall Overcome." But the highlight of the event was a brand new song, Rihanna's "Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)," which she performed in London with Jay-Z, Bono and the Edge.

Bruce Springsteen

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Nils Lofgren, Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt of The E Street Band perform at "12-12-12" a concert benefiting The Robin Hood Relief Fund to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy presented by Clear Channel Media & Entertainment, The Madison Square Garden Company and The Weinstein Company at Madison Square Garden on December 12, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Clear Channel)

Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Clear Channel

12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief (2012)

Hurricane Sandy ripped through the eastern seaboard of the United States in October 2012, causing $60 billion in damage. Two months later, on December 12, this all-star benefit, held at Madison Square Garden and broadcast widely on television and online, raised funds for victims of the storm in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The lineup was perhaps the most star-studded of any such benefit, with Bruce Springsteen, the Who, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones, Roger Waters, Chris Martin, Michael Stipe, Kanye West and Eddie Vedder all turning out. The evening closed memorably with a rocking Paul McCartney performance, during which he was joined by the surviving members of Nirvana.