‘Jersey 4 Jersey:’ Bringing the State Together for Entertainment, Fundraising and Coronavirus Awareness

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Published May 3, 2020
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The Montclarion
The Jersey 4 Jersey concert was broadcasted on April 22, 2020. Photo courtesy of NJPRF.org

Some of the biggest names from New Jersey recently came together to broadcast an at-home fundraising concert to raise money for the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF) during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The “Jersey 4 Jersey” benefit show, which aired on multiple platforms on April 22, introduced a plethora of New Jersey natives from Whoopi Goldberg to Chris Rock to Chelsea Handler.

In between performances, Kelly Ripa described the ultimate purpose of the NJPRF.

“What I love about its mission is that it focuses on the immediate needs,” Ripa said. “Food for hungry kids and families, shelter for those who need it, assistance for frontline workers and care for our most vulnerable neighbors. It also focuses on rebuilding a long and difficult road ahead.”

The show kicked off with Jersey Shore staple, Bruce Springsteen, who sang a heartfelt duet of “Land of Hope and Dreams” with his wife, Patti Scialfa. In reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic, his lyrics said, “Tomorrow will be sunshine and all this darkness past.”

Up next was yet another New Jersey icon. With vintage plaques and posters in his recording studio filled with guitar cases, Jon Bon Jovi came on to perform his self-written ballad about the pandemic, titled “Do What You Can.” The song, which he debuted last month, encouraged fans to write the second verse with their own experience in quarantine.

Bon Jovi then continued expressing gratitude to those on the frontlines.

“Tonight we’re here to entertain you,” Bon Jovi said. “We’re here looking for that virtual hug. We want to thank all the doctors and the nurses and everybody who is out there on the frontlines to get us through, and we will get through.”

From Maplewood, New Jersey, SZA soulfully sang her song, “20 Something,” accompanied by Carter Lang on the guitar with a monochromatic filter placed over the screen. Charlie Puth followed her performance with his cover of Springsteen’s song “Growing Up,” from his bedroom.

Danny DeVito made an appearance to give viewers quarantine advice, as he reminisced about his summers at Asbury Park, where he once rode his bike down Main Street and Cookman Ave, swam in the ocean and walked through the casino on the boardwalk.

“I don’t like being sequestered, but we got to do it right,” DeVito said. “Then let’s get a handle on this with the doctors and scientists before we start traipsing around again, alright?”

Tony Bennett also gave a moving performance of Nat King Cole’s song, “Smile,” with piano accompaniment.

Halsey also had instrumentalists accompany her as she sang and played the guitar to her song, “Finally // Beautiful Stranger.”

Sports were included in the event with New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley making an announcement about his devotion to the state and urging people to donate.

“Anyone from Jersey would tell you we may be called the New York Giants but we play in New Jersey,” Barkley said.

Montclair, New Jersey’s very own, Stephen Colbert, introduced Fountains of Wayne, a New Jersey-based band best known for their hit song, “Stacy’s Mom.”

Unfortunately, the bands lead singer, Adam Schlesinger, passed away from coronavirus complications earlier this month. The band played tribute to him by singing their song “Hackensack,” which included the lyrics, “I will wait for you / As long as I need to / And if you ever get back to Hackensack / I’ll be here for you.”

Springsteen and Scialfa returned to the screen to sing his hit song, “Jersey Girl,” followed by another New Jersey anthem from Bon Jovi, who closed out the show with “Livin’ On A Prayer.”

Comedian and former host of “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart, introduced Bon Jovi’s final act.

“When you think about ‘How am I going to get through this? How are we going to have the strength?’ I think it’s important to think about some of the quiet heroes that are doing it every day for us going above and beyond,” Stewart said.

The important part of the show was not the celebrity attendance, but rather the montages of first responders, small business owners, teachers, volunteers and those making a difference in the fight against COVID-19.

In between each performance, pictures and videos from those on the front lines were included to spread awareness about the importance of donating.

Ashley Fitzpatrick, a registered nurse in Teaneck, New Jersey, was one of many to document her experience during the fundraiser.

“Every day we are battling this virus but we are also standing in as these patients’ family members to comfort them and hold their hand and even be with them in their last breaths,” Fitzpatrick said.

Overall, the benefit concert was incredibly moving. From listening to the stories of people on the front lines to hearing the urgency from those we all grew up watching, the concert was able to successfully bring the people of New Jersey together to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Donations can be made to NJPRF.org or 844-NJ-RELIEF.

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