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A HUGH-GELY INFLUENTIAL EVENT
TO FIGHT COVID-19

4/18’s massive Global Citizen One World: Together at Home concert benefiting health-care workers, the World Health Organization and other vital people and entities on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic attracted a staggering array of music artists and raised a mountain of funds. The event, curated by philanthropic dynamo Lady Gaga, was  carried on all major TV networks in the U.S. as well as key online platforms and carriers throughout the world.

We chatted with Hugh Evans, the Australian wunderkind behind Global Citizen, about how it all came together.

“It has been an enormous undertaking,” Evans says. “It started a month ago yesterday, when we got a phone call from the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, and the head of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom. And they were seeing the effects that COVID was having across the United States and around the world and asked us if global citizens ambassadors could respond. The following day, when all the social distance in measures started to go into place, Chris Martin of Coldplay started to perform in his living room; it went viral that day on Instagram Live. The following day, John Legend performed as part of our together at home series. And then Niall Horan, Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello did it.”

Next came word that Gaga wanted to be involved “to make this a truly global event and to really celebrate the frontline health workers who are the real heroes in all of this,” Evans adds. The entire thing unfolded over a couple of weeks that, he says, “felt like an eternity because we haven’t slept.”

He gives particular props to Team UMG, as execs from throughout the company lent their expertise and passion to the event’s execution. “Michele Anthony has mobilized the entire Universal family,” he notes, including global marketing head Andrew Kronfeld, U.K. boss David Joseph, marketing guru Dave Rocco and digital specialist Michael Nash, among many others.

Universal EVP Anthony, a founding board member of GC, has been aware of Evans’ work since he was a youth and he attracted the likes of Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and U2’s Bono to participate in his 2006 Make Poverty History concert in Melbourne.

"From the very beginning, the Global Citizen movement has been powered by artists," Anthony says. "Through their voices, millions of individuals around the world have been inspired to take action. That’s never been more apparent than with this event. It’s because of the leadership of Lady Gaga and the commitment of this incredible line-up of artists that we will make an impact supporting the crucial efforts of the frontline healthcare workers and the work of the World Health Organization in more than 194 countries during these difficult times. "

Evans described co-hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel as its “connective tissue” amid the many performers and other guests. The trio helped organize the show around what he calls its three key narrative points: “Firstly, how do we stop COVID, which is about social distance, testing and therapeutics in the search for a vaccine. Then it goes into what you, as a citizen, can do locally to support your community—and what can you do globally. And then we've called on corporate America and philanthropists to step up and make major seven-figure contributions to support local COVID-19 efforts that support the homeless, Feeding America and Covenant House as well as global anti-poverty efforts and the WHO. The third narrative point is focused on using this moment as a moratorium on pandemic preparedness--to ensure that this never happens again.”

Of course, all this comes in stark contrast to the bewildering and negligent response from Donald Trump’s White House, which just announced a plan to defund the WHO. But Team Global Citizen is marshaling an enormous effort; as of 4/20 the tally was $128m.

We hope Hugh Evans has since taken a well-deserved nap.

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