[Dixielandjazz] The Multitude of Hurricane Relief Concerts

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sat Sep 17 20:19:18 PDT 2005

Long article, may not interest all List Mates. Interesting from a musical
segment marketing point of view. (Forget the Socio-Political end of it as it
is off topic and not relevant)

Band Leaders, is there a lesson here to be learned about Marketing your
music? Maybe so.

Festival Producers, is there a lesson here to be learned about getting
audience for your event? Maybe so.

As I wrote this, I just saw/heard Wynton Marsalis and an 8 piece group play
the hell out of "Dippermouth Blues". They were all black musicians except
the banjoist. Yet many of us seem to believe Black people don't like this
music, much less play it. Hmmm, to my ears they out swung most OKOM festival
bands I've heard lately.

Perhaps there is a lesson there too. Will tonight's PBS show draw audience
with such a broad offering of music. Will their "all things to all people
approach" work?

Anyway, if you are interested in gaining audience, read on.


Cultural Divisions Stretch to Relief Concerts

By MICHAEL BRICK - September 17, 2005 - NY TIMES

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 16 - On Saturday night in Atlanta, there will be an
extravaganza for hurricane relief featuring an array of rappers. Country
Music Television is staging a benefit concert with a marquee of white
artists in Houston on Oct. 1. Michael Jackson has enlisted mostly black
performers to record a benefit single. And Gloria Estefan has announced
plans for a separate concert with Hispanic stars.

Even before the floodwaters began to recede in New Orleans, the nation's
talk shows and opinion pages were filled with debate about the poor and
black residents' being left to drown while the well off and white escaped.
Now the cultural divisions reflected in that debate are showing up in
divergent charity efforts being organized by the music industry,
sociologists and entertainment executives said.

"Katrina has exposed fault lines, and didn't bring us together," said David
Wellman, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa
Cruz. "The fact that we have different charities raising money reflects that
we have different ways different-colored people experienced the tragedy."

In part, the variety of benefits is a reflection of longstanding demographic
realities in the music business, and the different professional networks and
connections of those presenting the concerts.

But the racial and class tensions exposed by Hurricane Katrina are sorely
testing the power of music to unite people in aid to a city central to the
country's heritage of musical assimilation.

Joel Gallen, a producer of the Sept. 11 benefit concert "America: A Tribute
to Heroes" in 2001, said he noticed a contrast between the responses to the
attacks and the Katrina disaster as soon as he began booking performers last
month for the nationally broadcast "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for
the Gulf Coast," broadcast Sept. 9.

"It wasn't that same unified, universal thing," Mr. Gallen said. "Nobody
governs this sort of thing. If other people want to do their own thing, they

While most organizers and performers have left the racial and class dynamics
unspoken, some have been blunt. The most notable has been the rapper Kanye
West, who said "George Bush doesn't care about black people" in unscripted
comments during NBC's Sept. 2 "Concert for Hurricane Relief." The network
edited the comments for its West Coast broadcast.

David Banner, a producer, rapper and organizer of the hip-hop benefit on
Saturday at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, featuring artists like Lil Jon,
Nelly and Young Jeezy, endorsed Mr. West's comments in a statement
announcing the concert.

"I think Hurricane Katrina has exposed America for what it is," Mr. Banner
said in the statement. "I think it's bigger than black and white. I think it
has a lot more to do with rich and poor. We've always known that America is
a racially driven country. We front like it's all good, but we know the
levels of racism that are in America. It shows that America doesn't give a
damn about people in the hood, period."

Mr. Banner's Heal the Hood Foundation is also sponsoring a hip-hop benefit
in Manhattan on Monday that concert organizers say is meant to "cut out the
middle men" of hurricane relief - a reference to organizations like the Red
Cross, which they accuse of discrimination in administering aid to hurricane

Separate efforts by the entertainment industry to raise money began early in
the disaster. On Aug. 30, Mr. Gallen got a call from representatives of CBS,
Fox and ABC, who proposed a joint benefit, he recalled. The next day, NBC
announced its event, as did Viacom, for its music channels VH1, MTV and CMT.

By the time it was shown on Sept. 9, "Shelter From the Storm," the event
that began with CBS, Fox and ABC, had grown to what was billed as an
all-encompassing event, like the 2001 concert for terrorism victims. NBC
joined in the broadcast, as did WB, UPN, PBS, PAX and 21 other networks.
Kanye West rapped, the Dixie Chicks sang modern country and the Foo Fighters
played rock 'n' roll.

But the all-things-to-all-people approach found a smaller audience this
time. Nielsen Media Research reported 22.1 million total viewers, nearly
twice the 11.1 million who watched "The Simpsons" last week, but nowhere
close to the 89 million viewers for the 2001 broadcast of "America: A
Tribute to Heroes." Still, on Wednesday, the networks announced that they
had raised $30 million for the Salvation Army and Red Cross, the same figure
they had reported raising in the benefit for victims of the terror attacks.

One network that did not join the broadcast this time was BET, which had
carried "A Tribute to Heroes." Instead, the network produced its own
separate hurricane benefit concert at the same time. With that show, "Saving
Ourselves," which included the rappers Q-Tip and Jay-Z, BET said it raised
$10 million for the Red Cross. Nielsen reported 1.2 million viewers for the

>From there, a pattern was set. Michael Jackson, who has been living in the
Persian Gulf region since his acquittal in a child molestation trial,
announced a list of performers who had agreed to join him in recording a
song tentatively titled "From the Bottom of My Heart" for a fund-raising
effort he called "From the Gulf to the Gulf." He named Jay-Z, Mariah Carey,
Missy Elliott, R. Kelly, Wyclef Jean, Lenny Kravitz, Lauryn Hill, Mary J.
Blige, Yolanda Adams, Kenneth Edmonds (also known as Babyface), James Brown,
Snoop Dogg, the O'Jays and Ciara, a less diverse assemblage than the group
he had organized in the 1980's for the African famine relief single "We Are
the World."

New events have been announced each day, few with lineups more diverse than
Mr. Jackson's. CMT announced a concert scheduled for Oct. 1 in Houston,
starring George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Willie Nelson and
Martina McBride. Gloria and Emilio Estefan enlisted Jimmy Smits, Andy
Garcia, Jon Secada, Daisy Fuentes and Arturo Sandoval to help in a separate
fund-raising effort, and announced plans for an event in Miami.

The competition that has emerged among fund-raising efforts reflects
cultural lines that were already drawn, some experts said.

"If this had happened in the 1970's, we wouldn't have a Country Music
Television," said John H. McWhorter, a senior fellow at the Manhattan
Institute who studies race and culture. "We live in a fragmented America."

Others said the dividing lines are partly a result of entertainment

"The music world is split into these various genres, and they're split along
ethnic lines," said Jonathan Turner, a professor of sociology at the
University of California, Riverside. "If you're going to raise money, you
appeal to your core constituency."

Some producers found success lining up diverse shows by emphasizing the
musical heritage of the drowned city. Wynton Marsalis, among New Orleans'
most famed native sons, announced a benefit at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where
he is the artistic director, to be broadcast live on Saturday on PBS. The
roster of performers included James Taylor, Buckwheat Zydeco and Paquito

"One thing that has always allowed people to come together, whether they're
divided by socioeconomics or class," said Derek E. Gordon, president and
chief executive of Jazz at Lincoln Center, "one thing that has always
brought us together is this music. Amid all the things that are trying to
separate us that people talk about in various discussions, we're trying to
focus on something that allows people to live together harmoniously."

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