Wyclef Jean and Melky Sedeck“The sky falls/ The earthquakes/ We gonna put this back together/ We won’t break.” –Jay-Z featuring Bono, Rihanna “Stranded” The 7.0 earthquake that shook Haiti also moved the rest of the world. This unfortunate and deadly natural disaster opened the earth and our hearts. People from all over the world descended on the country to help save lives. But what could you or I do? It is totally unimaginable what the Haitian people and their families are experiencing. My friends, colleagues and the countless stories and videos on Facebook and Twitter tell the sad story. It’s emotional and heart wrenching: the images of death and destruction, the feeling of loss and lost, and the helplessness there, everywhere. Ten days after the catastrophe, George Clooney, Wyclef Jean, Anderson Cooper and many other stars held “Hope For Haiti Now,” a telethon to raise money to help with the relief efforts in the devastated country. This was a nationally televised effort to mobilize people to fundraise and to grieve. While many of us weren’t directly affected, we still feel the pain, sorrow and uncertainty–we are human. Our brothers and sisters are hurting. This telethon taped into the global consciousness as a way of expression, emoting and coming together–83 million people tuned in. We live streamed the two-hour program on ESSENCE.com. It’s been reported that there were some 1.9 millions streams of the telethon.
Sting and Mary J. BligeI sat in my office late Friday night working and returning emails. Halle Berry, Brad Pitt and Chris Rock asked us to help. I caught myself frozen, listening to the voices, music and lyrics coming through the computer screen. Broadcast from the United States, London and Haiti, this was a vibration of love and humanity. It was inspiring and a release all at once. * Stevie Wonder’s powerful rendition of “Time to Love”/”Bridge Over Troubled Water.” * Christina Aguilera’s soulful “Lift Me Up.” * John Legend’s moving version of “Motherless Child.” * Madonna and a gospel choir singing the stirring “Like A Prayer.” * Mary J. Blige taking it to church with “Hard Times (Come Again No More).” * Jennifer Hudson’s deeply passionate and resounding “Let It Be.” * Haitian artist Emeline Michel’s sorrowful sounds of “Many Rivers To Cross.” One of my staff members stopped by my office to ask me if I was okay. Was I crying? Yes, I was and shaking my head. Listening to these incredible sounds, emotional songs, and voices of the children of Haiti. The music really opened me up. It let me mourn this terrible experience, the death and destruction. It was like a funeral, memorial and celebration of faith, all in one. It touched me and connected me with the people of Haiti, in my heart and my very core. It truly was a spiritual moment. The next day, I went on iTunes and purchased the “Hope For Haiti Now” album (which is now the No.1 downloaded album on iTunes in 18 countries). It was a way for me to help, to give (The “Hope For Haiti Now” telethon has raised $61 million to date) and to be human and connect. My heart and soul go out to the people of Haiti and their families. God bless you. Ohm shanti. Shalom. Amen. As Bruce Springsteen said: “This is my prayer for Haiti.” “Hope for Haiti Now” will continue accepting donations for six months via the following methods: Online: HopeforHaitinow.org Phone: 877-99-HAITI Text: Text “GIVE” to 50555 Mail: Hope For Haiti Now Fund, Entertainment Industry Foundation 1201 West 5th Street, Suite T-700 Los Angeles, CA 90017 For more Emil’s Email stories, click here.