Jamaicans stage online $10M benefit concert to aid saviors

Jamaica aimed high on Easter Sunday to raise US$10.5 million to benefit frontline workers fighting to suppress the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic by hosting a marathon online concert earmarked to purchase personal protective equipment.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Culture, the government pooled resources from a global diasporan community extending to Europe, North America and throughout the Caribbean in order to demonstrate unity and gratitude for citizens who have risked their lives to save the nation during the pandemic.

With hopes of securing moneys to buy masks, gloves, gowns, ventilators and other medical supplies needed to accommodate demands of the alleged three million populous, an April 12 marathon campaign dubbed Jamaica Together We Stand kicked off a global plea to donate to the cause.

Early in the day nationals made a bold gesture by showing off the black, gold and green colors of their flag in an expression of pride for the country’s leadership.

Later in the afternoon, TVJ, the premiere television channel there collaborated with LOVE-TV, RE-TV, HYPE-TV and other media outlets to simultaneously broadcast a superlative pre-taped production that online viewers logged onto at Jatogetherwestandtogether.com

Diasporans connected with the cause and from London, England, Toronto, Canada to Brooklyn, New York were held hostage by a plethora of talents contributing to the cause against the COVID-19 virus.

Dancehall influencer Spice checked in from Atlanta, Georgia.

Jimmy Cliff, Maxi Priest, Stephen Marley, Gramps Morgan of Morgan Heritage — Jamaicans at home and abroad contributed to the cause.

Coordinated by Olivia Babsy Grange, the minister responsible for culture, sports and entertainment curated the global talent bank united in aiding the selfless workers.

“We encourage you to join fellow Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica across the globe as we offer hope and inspiration to each other via this medium while seeking to raise funds to purchase much needed Personal Protective Equipment and other vital supplies for frontline workers in this fight against Covid 19,” Grange said.

Much like the star-studded “We are the World” project of 1985 to help starving Biafrans, the project against COVID 19 culled the likes of Jamaica’s superlative talents — Olympian athlete Usain Bolt, reggae singers Ziggy, Kymani, Stephen, Skip and Julian Marley, Capleton, Koffee, Marcia Griffith, Shaggy, Sean Paul, Fanton Mojah, Buju Banton, Omi, Third World leader Cat Coore, comedian Oliver Samuels, actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, Miss World Toni-Ann Singh and others, for a six-hour online concert/telethon.

Performances were exemplary — pre-taped due to the restrictions imposed by the government.

In addition to commentary and performances from nationals, the collaborative concert also featured friends of Jamaica — Haiti’s Wyclef Jean, US hip-hop superstar DJ Khalid, British musician Sting, California-based actor Leon, British singer Estelle and Miami-based singer Gloria Estefan.

Early in the broadcast, Prime Minster Andrew Holness donated $3,000, his finance minister Nigel Clarke added $2,000 to the coffers, Rohan Marley pledged $10,000, Jamaica ex-soldiers in New York donated $1,000, Jamaica Nurses Association in NY boosting the numbers by $500, and a generous physician in the Bahamians spiked the till by pledging another $1,000.

It was evident that in a blink the tiny island-nation would quickly reach their goal and in the process give example to the world by amassing a whopping quarter of a million dollars in little time.

United Way of Jamaica, Restaurants of Jamaica, KFC, Jamaica Stock Exchange, local corporations and donations from diasporans flooded phone lines and web portals established to answer the generous calls.

When the sprint king of the island pledged five hundred thousand in his home currency a challenger to his effort quickly matched the amount, Robert Livingstone, a renowned manager of reggae artists called in his pledge for the same amount.

Joe Bogdanovich, who stages the annual Reggae Sumfest concert in Montego Bay committed to J$600,000.

“Every mickle make a muckle,” Opposition minister Lisa Hanna said in a plea to viewers, “There is no force that is unstoppable like Jamaicans.”

Held in conjunction with assistance from NAJASO, an amalgam of organizations dedicated to addressing the needs of the island, ambassador Audrey Marks, Consul General Alsion Wilson, VP Records and others the telethon was inspired by a single recording from Richie Spice titled “Jamaica Telethon: Together We Stand.”

Pat Chin, CEO of the record label endorsed the ambitious effort by urging a message to Jamaicans throughout the world to help the nation. Her store is committed to selling T-shirts, caps and other commemorative merchandise from the music label’s web portal.

Pledge lines will remain open another four weeks at the WhatsApp portal, or by calling 876-350-1754 in Jamaica, 866-228-8393 in the USA and Canada, 44-808-189- 6147 in the United Kingdom.

Reportedly 72 individuals on the island were confirmed casualties of pandemic.

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