While most of the globe is on shutdown, eliminating live events which usually attract large audiences, the entertainers have found ways to join the COVID-19 fight.
Barbadian pop superstar Rihanna, through her Clara Lionel Foundation, last month joined with Twitter & Square Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey and rapper Jay Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation to provide $6.2 million in grants for the COVID-19 fight in the Caribbean, United States and Africa. The money is to help buy food, protective gear and medical supplies.
Rihanna, full name Robyn Rihanna Fenty, also donated ventilators to her homeland. Her father Ronald Fenty, who lives in Barbados, received a ventilator after he reportedly contracted COVID-19.
“I have to say, I love you so much, Robyn,” Fenty was quoted by ABC as saying last month. “She did so much for me. I appreciate everything she has done.”
Rihanna has also received nods of gratitude from other beneficiaries, including Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, the epicenter of the virus in the U.S.
“I want to thank @rihanna and the Rihanna Foundation for donating Personal Protective Equipment to New York State,” Cuomo noted on Twitter. “We're so appreciative of your help and that of so many others who have stepped up.”
Other Caribbean nationals stepped up. A mid-April telethon in Jamaica, which was broadcast worldwide, featured input from Jamaican celebrities such as former superstar sprinter Usain Bolt, plus musicians like Shaggy, Sean Paul, Sean Kingston, and the children of late reggae icon Bob Marley - Ziggy, Damian and Stephen. Non-Jamaican entertainers, including Haitian-born Wyclef Jean, Britain’s Sting and Cuban-born Gloria Estefan, also pitched in.
Wyclef Jean said “COVID-19 is a very serious issue,” revealing family members were among the virus’s “victims.” “So let’s get in front of it,” he added.
In his video recording, dancehall star Sean Paul said: ”Please continue to follow the social distancing guidelines and give thanks for life.”
In his pre-recorded video message, Sting pleaded for help for Jamaicans on the frontline of the fight.
“Please donate to support your healthcare workers, who are fighting this amazingly courageous fight against COVID-19,” the former Police lead said. “Stay at home and donate.”
According to the Jamaica government, the telethon raised J$50 million (more than US$350,000), which is earmarked to buy ventilators, testing kits and protective gear for medical workers and other frontline staff.
However, not all Caribbean entertainers were immediately onboard with the anti-COVID-19 campaign.
Jamaican reggae star Chronixx was among early skeptics. The “Smile Jamaica” singer noted on Instagram he was “not buying the COVID-19 b.s.” and said he refused to participate in “the circus.” The post was deleted.
Later, Chronixx appeared to have a change of heart. A posting on his social media account urged people to “take all necessary steps to reduce the risks of spreading and being affected by this virus … Don’t take it lightly and don’t take anything for granted.”
The six-hour telethon was part of a “Together We Stand” campaign supported by Jamaica’s government. The aim was to raise money to assist the Caribbean island’s healthcare workers in the pandemic fight.
“They are going to be the ones on the frontline leading the race,” said Wyclef Jean said.