Lady Gaga came alongside the five living, former U.S. presidents for an important cause last night: hurricane relief. As a surprise performer and speaker at the One America Appeal relief concert held at Texas A&M University, Gaga shared a message of unity and resilience which she echoed in an Instagram post.
She wrote in her one of many posts supporting the concert, "It was an honour to be invited by these five living Presidents to perform and speak at this historic event where we put our differences aside, and put humanity first in the face of catastrophe."
The donations from the One America Appeal, $31 million (roughly £24 million) and counting, will go straight toward helping the victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria which have caused catastrophic damage to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Prior to the fundraising event, many of the former presidents – Barack Obama, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter – shared messages of support on social media to create awareness and promote the event. George H. W. Bush tweeted that he was, "Pleased to join these friends, distinguished leaders helping our fellow Americans." 42nd President, Bill Clinton, expressed his pride in being apart of the relief effort tweeting, "As Americans, we lift each other up." While acknowledging the devastation caused by the natural disasters, George W. Bush shared on his Instagram that he believed it also "brought out the best in humanity."
Originally meant as a relief effort for hurricane Harvey, the event was extended to aiding in the recovery from Irma and Maria late last month.
Among the musical guests were rock and country artists such as Yolanda Adams, Lyle Lovett, Sam Moore, and Robert Earl Keen with singer Lee Greenwood emceeing the event, reports CNN.
Each of the former presidents made statements as well. "It's important that those affected by these devastating storms know that even if the path to recovery feels like a road that goes on forever, we're with them for the long haul," President George H.W. Bush said to the packed Texas arena. 39th President, Jimmy Carter, announced that Habitat for Humanity would be building 6,000 homes in devastated areas.
Throughout the night, the focus was solely on raising money for hurricane victims. All of the former presidents avoided speaking about politics, and none of them mentioned current President Donald Trump who made a brief appearance via taped video message, reports Associated Press. He addressed concertgoers saying, "This wonderful effort reminds us that we truly are one nation under God, all unified by our values and our devotion to one another," following by thanking the former presidents for their "tremendous assistance." He ended his message by saying, "Together we will recover. We will rebuild. And we will come back stronger and better than ever before."
"To Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Melania and I want to express our deep gratitude for your tremendous assistance," Trump says in the message. "This wonderful effort reminds us that we truly are one nation under God, all unified by our values and our devotion to one another."
According to numbers from a statement reported by CNN, more than 80,000 people donated as of Saturday night. “With damage estimates from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria topping $300 billion and requiring months and years of rebuilding ahead, we hope this strong start to the One America Appeal is just that — a start,” said David Jones, CEO of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation in a statement.
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