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Music industry rallies for Europe flood victims

Benefit concerts in Germany and Belgium are helping to raise money for those affected by the catastrophic flooding which has swept across continental Europe this month.

At press time, at least 217 people have lost their lives in the floods, which began on 12 July, including 177 in Germany, 37 in Belgium and one person each in Italy, Austria and Romania. A further 155 Germans and six Belgians are still missing, while hundreds of thousands of people were left without power by the flash floods, which have stunned the scientific community.

In Germany, which has bore the brunt of the flooding, a benefit show, Wir halten zusammen! (We Stick Together!), air on public broadcaster ARD tonight (23 July), with a host of the country’s biggest domestic stars playing for free to raise funds for flooding victims.

Sarah Connor, Herbert Grönemeyer, Max Giesinger, Peter Maffay, Roland Kaiser, die Prinzen, Max Mutzke, Jeanette Biedermann and Yvonne Catterfeld will perform at the concert, which is being produced by Oberkirch-based Kimmig Entertainment and forms part of a wider benefit day broadcast on ARD.

“It is everyone’s business to help, especially those of us in the cultural sector”

In Belgium, in addition to a national day of mourning held on 21 July, promoters and artists are stepping up to help those affected by the floods, which were described by Belgian minister of home affairs Annelies Verlinden as “one of the greatest natural disasters our country has ever known.”

Niels Destadsbader – known to non-Belgian IQ readers for his work with Covid-19 relief organisation Lights for Live – donated the proceeds of his show at Ghelamco Arena (20,000-cap.) in Ghent on Tuesday 20 July to the Belgian Red Cross, while popular Francophone festival Francofolies de Spa, which is this year called Belgofolies de Spa, has added an extra day in solidarity with flood victims.

The special concert, Belgofolies aux côtés des sinistrés (Belgofolies with the Disaster Victims), will be held on Monday 26 July and feature performances from Belgian artists including Delta, Plastic Bertrand, Glauque, Antoine Armedan, CélénaSophia, Pierres and Eddy Ape, with all money going to the victims.

Charles Gardier, festival director of Francofolies/Belgofolies, tells RTBF radio: “We know that we will be able to make this evening a great moment of solidarity to come to the aid of the victims. We said to ourselves that it was also our role to act. Faced with such a crisis, it is thanks to this beautiful act of solidarity that we will be able to get out of it. It is everyone’s business [to help], and especially those of us in the cultural sector.”


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CAA’s Hugh Parsons plans ‘Ride for Ben’ fundraiser

Hugh Parsons, assistant to late CAA agent Ben Kouijzer, is planning a nearly 1,000-mile sponsored bike ride in memory of his close friend and mentor, who died from cancer late last year.

Kouijzer, an electronic music agent at Creative Artists Agency in London, passed away in November after being diagnosed with malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour (MPNST), a rare and aggressive form of cancer. He was just 36.

Parsons, who remains with CAA, is cycling the length of Great Britain, from Land’s End in Cornwall to John o’Groats in the Scottish Highlands, to raise money for Sarcoma UK, a charity that supported Kouijzer throughout his battle with cancer.

At press time, Parsons has raised more than £6,000 for Sarcoma UK for the 1,500km ride, which he will do in ten days in the company of his friend, Max.

“Ben was a very special person who I was lucky enough to call a close friend and mentor,” explains Parsons. “We first met through his brother, Christiaan, who DJed at one of my Stevie Wonderland shows in Manchester in 2015, and Ben and I stayed in touch since, ending up with me working for him at CAA. Among so many huge life lessons, Ben taught me to make time for everyone, park your ego, be as fair as possible, and to stay positive.

“Ben taught me to make time for everyone, park your ego, be as fair as possible, and to stay positive”

“Ben passed in Mexico at the end of 2020 following a long struggle with an uncommon cancer called a sarcoma (or MPNST), which initially infected his back and later his lungs. He was a fighter through and through; however, the final blow was dealt by Covid.

“In between Ben’s two diagnoses, he signed up to run the London marathon for Sarcoma UK but was not able to. I will be following through on Ben’s promise to Sarcoma UK and raising the money Ben would have raised in his name. Charities have been hit especially hard by Covid, and this has been felt even more acutely by already underfunded sarcoma researchers.”

The ride will see Parsons and Max average 150km a day and climb over 15,000m (the equivalent of nearly two Everests), burning the same amount of calories as 14 marathons. “It’s a pretty mad idea, but inspired by Ben, I’m sure we’ll pull through,” Parsons adds. “Please give generously!”

To donate to the ‘Big Ride for Ben’, click here to visit the fundraising page on JustGiving.


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Agent and dad plan ‘Row for Alison’ marathon

Free Trade Agency’s David Hughes and his father, Darryl, will be donning the lycra to take part in a fundraising rowing-machine challenge on 28 May in aid of the hospice team that looked after David’s mother, Alison, who passed away in December.

David, who assists Paul Boswell, will be attempting to row a full marathon (26.2 miles/42.2km) alongside his dad who will take on half the distance, in a bid to raise £5,000.

“My mum had a brain tumour and the support of a very extensive professional care team, alongside incredible amounts of support from her family and friends, enabled her to be nursed at home for nearly 12 months prior to being transferred to the Princess Alice Hospice at Esher for her final days,” says David.

“The hospice community team played a vital role in caring for Mum with their unique knowledge and expertise in palliative care. However, while Alison was at the hospice I discovered that they are not able to operate to full capacity, due to a desperate lack in funding for nursing staff.”

To support the Hughes family’s efforts, visit the ‘Row for Alison’ page on JustGiving. At press time, the Hugheses had raised just over half of their £5,000 target.


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United at Home: How David Guetta live streams raised millions

United at Home, David Guetta’s free-to-access lockdown livestream series, has raised more than US$2 million for charity to date – over half a million dollars per show – and is just getting started, according to co-organiser Michael Wiesenfeld.

Wiesenfeld, a French-born, Miami-based estate agent and friend of Guetta, was instrumental in setting up the first United at Home event in April 2020, which saw the DJ play a 100-minute set on the roof of an apartment block in Miami in aid of the World Health Organization (WHO), Feeding South Florida, Feeding America and France’s Fondation des Hôpitaux.

The show was seen by more than 12 million people – many of which also joined in on a Zoom link, while 7,000 residents of neighbouring blocks in the Icon Brickell complex watched from their balconies – and raised $700,000, with donations matched by Guetta himself, Wiesenfeld explains.

“For that first show, David paid for 100% of the production, as well as matching people’s donations, so 100% of that money went directly to charity,” he recalls.

Thinking back to the genesis of the show, Wiesenfeld tells IQ: “David wanted to do something to give back, but he didn’t really know what. I was the same – it was such a stressful time, and I couldn’t sleep thinking of all these people who were worse off than me. We could see people were struggling. There was no help at the time, as this was before any stimulus package.

“I used to live in the apartment block where we did the first show and I realised it would be perfect. I was looking for something that would be visually very nice [to watch from home] and also offer the possibility for David to interact with a live crowd. A friend and client of mine in the real-estate business, Jean-Charles Carre, is part of David’s management team, so I called them up and said, ‘Why don’t we do it here?’”

The United at Home team, which also included Jérémy Zeitoun, Guetta’s head of social media and digital marketing, and Pierre-Georges Kieffer from Warner Music France, pulled the Miami show together in under a week, working “18 hours a day for five days” to make it happen, Wiesenfeld continues.

In addition to providing some much-needed entertainment, the funds raised by United at Home Miami and follow-up event United at Home New York, on 30 May, enabled Feeding America to distribute over four million meals to people in need.

“We thought about selling tickets to raise more money, but it would limit the number of people who can see it”

“Everybody has same story about it giving a bit of happiness at time of such darkness,” Wiesenfeld says. “I dug out the clips recently and, even a year later, I had chills. It was like watching France win the world cup!”

“That night, I couldn’t sleep,” Wiesenfeld remembers. “David, the team and I were on the phone until 6.30 in the morning, we were so full of adrenaline. We all agreed that we had to do another one.”

The show that followed, which saw Guetta performing from the roof of New York’s Rockefeller Center, almost didn’t happen, with big-city bureaucracy, the worsening Covid-19 situation and the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd threatening to derail the concert before it got off the ground.

“The day of the event, there were 4,000 people on the streets of New York by our hotel,” Wiesenfeld explains. “We didn’t think we were going to make it to the Rockefeller Center in time. In the end, David arrived seven minutes before the show!”

Despite the chaotic circumstances, United at Home New York was another critical and financial success, securing the backing of a number of high-profile sponsors who were impressed by what the team had pulled off in Miami.

“In Miami, David paid for entire show, but in New York we had Major League Soccer, Heineken, Atari, all kinds of companies… In total, we had maybe 15 sponsors because they saw what we did in Miami and they were blown away,” says Wiesenfeld.

Similarly successful were United at Home Paris, held at the Louvre on New Year’s Eve 2020, and United at Home Dubai, which saw Guetta return to the rooftop (this time of the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel) on 6 February. Both shows were engineered by Guetta’s long time tour manager, Jean-Guillaume Charvet, and visual artist Romain Pissenem of High Scream Production, and brought United at Home’s now-trademark mix of high-energy electronic music, spectacular visual effects and breathtaking locations to fans in new continents.

Bucking the trend towards ticketed live streams, Wiesenfeld says all future United at Home events will remain free to view to ensure they reach as many people as possible.

“The key with charity is that it’s all about the experience and the connection with people”

“We thought about it [selling tickets], to raise more money, but it would limit the number of people who can see it,” he explains. “David’s logic is that he’s been very successful, he’s received a lot from his fans, and now his duty is to give back. The charity angle is very important to him.”

At press time, the four shows had been collectively viewed by well over 100m people – and where in the beginning the team had to approach cities to host United at Home, now the cities are coming to them. “The shows have shown that these United at Home events are a great way of advertising their cities,” says Wiesenfeld, who with Carre now leads a specialist event consultancy, The Charity Guys. “After all, it’s a lot cheaper than hosting the Euros…”

The plan for 2021–22 is for another three or four over the next 12 months, he says. “Now United at Home has become a concept – we travel to a beautiful part of the world and play great music for charity – it’s going to continue.”

Post-coronavirus, Wiesenfeld adds, team Guetta – which also includes agent Maria May of CAA – are also hoping to do a “real show in a big stadium: a festival curated by David but featuring other artists. A Live Aid type of thing, once a year.”

On the live stream front, it’s likely the next United at Home show will be in Asia, but The Charity Guys is also looking at South America, the Middle East and other cities in Europe, according to Wiesenfeld. “What we’re trying to do is find new ways to raise money for those who need it,” he adds.

The Charity Guys is also hoping to work with other artists to replicate the success of the United at Home model, using it as their proof of concept.

“United at Home was the product of out-of-the-box thinking – it was livestreaming but in a completely different way. Now we want to do that with other artists and entertainers, leveraging their fame and brand to raise money.

“There are a lot of celebrities who have foundations but they don’t raise much money, and I think that’s because they don’t have the right team around them. The key with charity is that it’s all about the experience and the connection with people, and that’s why United at Home has been so successful.”


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French Touch tour to raise money for artists and crew

Live Nation France has announced the French Touch tour, a new series of livestreamed concerts designed to raise funds, and provide work, for French artists and crew.

The shows, presented by investment bank Bpifrance and airing on Canal+’s Canal VOD website, begin this Thursday (25 March) with a show by genre-bending pop trio LEJ, and continue on a weekly basis for the next 15 weeks.

Other artists taking part include Jérémy Frérot, Sofiane Pamart, Skip the Use, Marina Kaye, Kimberose, Joé Dwèt Filé, Marie-Laure Garnier and Yusan, who will perform at venues including La Cigale, Le Duc des Lombards and Salle Gaveau (Paris), Olympia (Arcachon) and the Atabal (Biarritz).

Tickets for the French Touch tour concerts are priced at €4.99 each and are available from the Canal+ website, with all proceeds going to the performers and technical team.

“More than 1,500 artists and technicians will be able to work again and practice their skills.”

“This digital tour aims to support” the entire “sector to revive the cultural and creative industries,” say Live Nation, Canal+ and Bpifrance in a statement announcing the tour. “The partners are joining forces to get all the behind-the-scenes jobs back on track, so that all the players in French culture and live performance can return to the stage.”

“Thanks to this tour,” they add, “more than 1,500 artists and technicians will be able to work again and practice their skills.”

At the time of writing, France is back in partial lockdown, with new restrictions on meeting indoors designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Sold-out Sportpaleis raises €50,000 for live biz

Fundraising initiative Lights for Live has raised more than €50,000 for Belgium’s live music industry after selling out the Antwerp Sportpaleis for the first time in 2021.

Over 5,000 people booked one or more virtual ‘seats’ at €2 each in the 18,400-seat arena to raise money for Live2020, a solidarity fund to support the industry during the Covid-19 pandemic. Previous fundraising events for Live2020 include the Live2020 Auction in November and last year’s Rock Werchter for Live2020.

The money raised by Lights for Live was handed over to Live2020 on Sunday (14 February), while at at the same time each seat in the Sportpaleis was illuminated to represent the fans who couldn’t be present.

“You can feel that people are really starting to look forward to concerts again”

“It is great to see so many people showing their solidarity with the live music sector through this action,” says Clouseau singer Koen Wauters. “You can feel that people are really starting to look forward to concerts again. It’s something I miss a lot myself at the moment.”

“I am genuinely touched by so much light and warmth,” comments musician and composer Miguel Wiels. “It sounds strange, but despite the fact that no one is here, you can still feel a kind of presence from the audience. Hopefully more actions like this will follow soon so that together we can lead the music sector through this crisis and we can make a new start without too much damage.”

According to Niels Destadsbader, another regular at the Sportpaleis, “I must say that I have mixed feelings being here today. On the one hand, it makes me a bit unhappy to see this beautiful concert hall empty, especially because I know from experience how this – in usual circumstances – is an insanely magical place. But on the other hand, I am very happy with the support of our fans and of everyone who supports and cares about music.”


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Unsung Heroes 2020: Barrie Knight

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with Big Knight In’s Barrie Knight, who follows Sandra Beckmann and Tom Koperek.

A specialist in security and artist liaisons, Barrie Knight is a well known figure around the world, with regular clients including Dave Gilmour, Nick Mason, Peter Gabriel, Ronan Keating and events such as Isle of Wight Festival. His efforts throughout lockdown have ensured that tens of thousands of people in London have not gone hungry, following an accidental encounter in the street.

“I do an occasional club night called Big Knight Out, so when Covid hit we organised an online event called the Big Knight In, which went out to 11,000 people,” he recalls. “The day after the show, I was walking past a local school, St Paul’s, where my friend Roy Edwards works, and he was there, feeding the children of key workers. I was a free-school-dinners kid myself, so after chatting to Roy, I started making sandwiches for the kids and went along to the school to help out.

“When I was there, one of the parents thanked me for feeding them and it turned out some of the kids were taking the food home to share with their families because it was the only regular food they were getting.”

Determined to help as many families as possible, Knight hit on the idea of a JustGiving page to ask Big Knight In attendees to donate money for the food drive. Within an hour of that going live, it had raised £5,000 (€5,565). In total, supporters raised close to £9,000, but Knight wasn’t finished there. “I asked Joe Lock, the manager of our local Morrisons [supermarket], if we could do some kind of deal with them, and straight off, they gave us six pallets of food, free of charge, to help out.”

“The kids were taking the food home to share with their families because it was the only regular food they were getting”

Knight also leveraged his showbiz connections to solicit support from the likes of Ronan Keating, Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox.

As media coverage spread, Morrisons pledged to match the donations raised by the Big Knight In and, as a result, the initiative was extended to provide a second school and food banks across London with bulk orders of provisions, as well as women’s refuges, soup kitchens and projects supporting the elderly – all of which needed help as the lockdown continued and people lost their jobs. The scheme ended when the schools reopened, post-lockdown, with Knight admitting he was overwhelmed by the response, which to date has helped more than 38,000 people across London.

“It’s shameful that people in one of the world’s richest cities can be starving; we’re going to do our best to prevent that,” he adds.

Paying tribute to Knight, Peter Gabriel says: “There are two words that bring a smile to my face and to the faces of everyone I work with. The first is ‘Barrie’ and the second ‘Knight’.

“Barrie is as close as I have ever come to meeting a knight in shining armour”

“There are many knights of the realm that have bought their knighthoods with political contributions. Our Barrie is as close as I have ever come to meeting a knight in shining armour – a natural knight always ready to dive in, like a superhero, whenever he sees people in trouble . His recent campaign to provide food for many thousands of people is just the latest in a very long line of selfless and effective acts.

“On tour in the US, our crew bus was involved in a serious accident, with crew thrown out into the road. While most crew woke up stunned, Barrie was straight into action, pulling injured crew members out to safety in case the bus caught fire. The young driver was trapped by the metal that had been pushed into him by the collision; Barrie didn’t leave until he had released the injured driver and got him out safely .

“I have never seen Barrie down. He is always positive and never has a bad word for any of us. I feel very lucky to have worked with him and I really hope all his generosity and concern for others might allow him one day to be rewarded and recognised as a real knight of the realm, which he thoroughly deserves.”

To find out more about Big Knight Out/In’s fundraising efforts, visit the Big Knight In YouTube channel, or donate directly on Knight’s Crowdfunder page.


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Donald MacLeod awarded MBE for music and charity work

Donald MacLeod, a stalwart in Scotland’s live music industry, has been appointed an MBE for his services in music and charity.

Alongside his roles as MD of Holdfast Entertainment Group, promoter at CPL, and owner of Glasgow-based clubs The Garage and the Cathouse Rock Club, MacLeod been touted as an “integral part and driving force” of Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy in Scotland.

MacLeod previously acted as co-chair of the board of management and chairman of fundraising, and continues to play a key role as chairman of the charity’s Scottish fundraising and events committee, responsible for delivering the long-running Scottish Music Awards (SMAs).

“I am delighted and quite humbled at being chosen to receive such a distinguished accolade. Music has been my life’s work and passion, and throughout most of my career Nordoff Robbins and the fantastic work it carries out in Scotland has been a great source of pride and inspiration,” says MacLeod.

“I would like to thank everyone involved in the charity: the beneficiaries, the therapists, fellow board and committee members, fundraisers and all those who nominated me. I regard this award as a deserved recognition of their hard work, fortitude and endeavour, and of course support, which has been as vital as it has been valued.”

“Nordoff Robbins and the fantastic work it carries out in Scotland has been a great source of pride and inspiration”

Sandra Schembri, chief executive of Nordoff Robbins said: “On behalf of the whole team at Nordoff Robbins, we’d like to congratulate Donald on being awarded his MBE.

“Donald has been a champion for those we support and has devoted a huge amount of his time and energy to the charity to help raise vital funds for us to continue to support some of the most vulnerable and isolated members of our society.

“His ongoing commitment to Nordoff Robbins in Scotland has made a huge difference. We are so grateful for his uniting people through the power of music to help those that need it most.”

During his time with Nordoff Robbins, McLeod has helped to oversee growth in music therapy provision and attract funding for its work through events, corporate partnerships, and his significant network of contacts in the music industry.

Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy is the largest independent music therapy charity in the UK, dedicated to enriching the lives of people affected by life-limiting illness, isolation or disability.

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Key deaf and disabled organisations form alliance

Twelve audience accessibility organisations and networks, along with two government sector champions, have come together to form a new informal group, Audience Access Alliance (AAA).

Founding members of the AAA include live music and event industries charity Attitude is Everything, alongside Performance Interpreting, Disability Collaborative Network, Transport for All, VocalEyes and more.

Andrew Miller, appointed by the government as a disability champion for the arts and culture sector, has also joined the AAA.

Today, the AAA published an open letter – marking the 10th anniversary of the Equalities Act – to urge the cultural, sports, heritage and tourism sectors to continue consulting with deaf and disabled audiences – even despite Covid.

The letter notes that despite deaf and disabled people being among the most impacted by Covid, not every disabled person is medically “vulnerable” to the virus and there remains a strong desire among many to participate in inclusive online events and return to in-person activities such as gigs as soon as rules allow.

“We can enable you to consult with deaf and disabled audiences, ensure that the gains we have jointly made are not lost, and help secure the widest possible audiences to support you in the difficult times ahead,” the letter reads.

“We can enable you to consult with deaf and disabled and help secure the widest possible audiences”

Jacob Adams, head of campaigns, Attitude is Everything added: “We are delighted to be joined by like-minded colleagues in forging this unprecedented Audience Access Alliance, extending a message of solidarity to the sectors we are proud to support.

“The need for cross-sector collaboration and conversation has never felt more vital, with unprecedented pressures on the industries we support, and so many parallels regarding the conversations we are having to support accessible reopening.

“Collectively, we champion the importance of deaf, disabled and neurodivergent audiences to the UK economy, and the role they can play in aiding the industries they love in the months and years ahead.”

Andrew Miller, UK government disability champion for arts & culture said, “Disabled people’s continued participation in live events and culture has been severely threatened by this pandemic.

“So I fully endorse the Audience Access Alliance call to the industry to ‘build back better’ and ensure that essential access is not only maintained but enhanced, making the recovery fully inclusive of disabled audiences in all settings“.

Since the Equalities Act came into force, participation by disabled people across the cultural and creative sectors has increased significantly.

In 2019/20, 76% of deaf and disabled people engaged with the arts (vs 77% of non-disabled people), closing the estimated 9% gap in engagement recorded in 2008/09.

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Mika’s ‘I love Beirut’ concert raises over €1m for charity

Lebanon-born artist Mika has raised over €1 million from his livestreamed charity concert in aid of those affected by last month’s devastating explosion in his home city.

I Love Beirut was livestreamed across four time zones from Mika’s YouTube channel on 19 September and featured performances from himself, Kylie, Rufus Wainwright, Mashrou Leila and others.

More than 100 countries bought tickets to the benefit event – the most recorded on a Ticketmaster event – and 48 countries donated.

The benefit concert raised €1m euros from ticket sales, sponsors and members of the public donating via GoFundMe. The money will be split between the Lebanese Red Cross and Save the Children. Donations can still be made here.

“Thank you to everyone around the world who bought a ticket to the stream, donated to GoFundMe and our sponsors for helping us to raise such an amazing amount of money,” says Mika.

“I also wanted to say how amazing this statement of solidarity for the situation in Beirut has been, with tickets for the stream selling to over 120 different countries around the world.

“This has been a project that was born out of and made possible by love, and a huge amount of collaboration with friends and many new friends made in the process.”

More than 100 countries bought tickets to the benefit event – the most recorded on a Ticketmaster event

Georges Kettaneh, secretary general of the Lebanese Red Cross, said: “We are extremely grateful for this generous support and for the solidarity that has been expressed. These funds will help the Lebanese Red Cross to continue to support Beirut at this time of great need.

“The people of Beirut face a long road to recovery, with this generosity and the continued support we have received from around the globe, we can continue to stand alongside them for as long we are needed.”

Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children UK said: “Save the Children is working around the clock to provide vital support to children and families in Lebanon whose lives have been devastated by the explosion in Beirut. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has come together to raise this incredible total.

“All donations will be going towards our emergency response efforts in Lebanon, which include weatherproofing damaged homes, supporting vulnerable and displaced families with food and cash grants, and providing ongoing psychological support for children and families.”

Mika will also perform at United for Lebanon, a charity event organised by French media conglomerate, Vivendi.

The benefit will take place tomorrow (1 October) in L’Olympia in Paris, featuring artists from Vivendi subsidiary Universal Music Group, including Sting, Clara Luciani, Florent Pagny, Melody Gardot, Soolking and Grand Corps Sick.

The concert will be broadcast live on France 2 and France Inter and a small audience will be present, in compliance with Covid regulations.

Fundraisers For Beirut and The Sound of Beirut took place earlier this month.


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