Jersey-natives Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and more banded together on Wednesday for the Jersey 4 Jersey benefit — an hour-long effort to inspire donations to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.
The Garden State has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with healthcare workers and communities struggling to keep up with the climbing number of cases.
Kicking off the hour-long special was Springsteen and his wife, fellow E Street Band singer Patti Scialfa with “Land of Hopes and Dreams.” The two strummed their guitars and shared one microphone for both their performances, coming back for an encore performance of a stripped-down version of “Jersey Girl.”
Also throwing his support to help his home state was Bon Jovi, who serenaded the audience with two performances as well. Singing from his home studio, the Jersey-born-and-raised singer premiered his brand new single, “When You Can’t Do What You Do, You Do What You Can.” Bon Jovi’s fans helped him craft the lyrics to his COVID-19 inspired song, which made its delivery all the more personal.
He returned to close out Jersey 4 Jersey with “Living on a Prayer,” but slowed the song down to punctuate the lyrics.
Coming together for the first time since Adam Schlesinger‘s death was Fountains of Wayne. Schlesinger passed away earlier this month from COVID-19 complications, which made the band’s reunion all the more emotional.
“This for Adam, his parents, his children and New Jersey,” Chris Collingwood opened before the three surviving members of the band dove into a melancholy rendition of “Hackensack” as the lyrics such as “Sometimes I wonder where you are” and “But I will wait for you/ As long as I need to,” hit differently in the wake of Schlesinger’s passing. Filling in for Adam was Sharon Van Etten, another Jersey native.
Also paying tribute to his home state was Charlie Puth, who sang Springsteen’s “Growing Up” while sitting at the piano in his parents’ basement.
Other performances included Tony Bennett, who took a page from his friend Lady Gaga from her performance on One World: Together at Home and sang “Smile;” Halsey singing “Finally/Beautiful Stranger” on her guitar and SZA with an impressive performance of “20 Something.”
Beyond the artists who banded together to serenade the audience and raise money for their state were celebrities Danny DeVito, Whoopi Goldberg, Chelsea Handler, Kelly Ripa, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart. Each shared a message of support for New Jersey’s strength and the importance of holding your loved ones close.
Interjected between each performance was stories from the COVID-19 front line. Stories included various restaurant owners relaying how the pandemic affected them and how difficult it was to lay off their staff — but then using their resources and firing back up their kitchens to help feed front line workers. In addition, the audience heard from a COVID-19 survivor about his “dance with death” where he spoke about how the virus nearly killed them and, upon his recovery, how the hospital staff sent him home with a standing ovation.
The most tragic story came from a doctor, who emotionally told the story about his efforts to save a man dying from COVID-19 and how he would help him FaceTime with his wife, who wasn’t allowed to visit. When the man passed due to complications from the virus, the doctor revealed how the wife asked to FaceTime with her husband one last time so she could say goodbye.
Each and every person who appeared on Jersey 4 Jersey emphasized the importance of family, staying home and supporting those who are working the front lines.
New Jersey is closing in on 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has suffered almost 5,000 — according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
For more details, visit NJPRF.org.
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