There's one more extraordinary and unique performance for you here on the GRAMMYs — "Music's Biggest Night" — a performance that represents even more than the legendary artists about to take the stage. So much of the music you've heard tonight — from American artists like John Legend and Mary J. Blige to Linkin Park and Bruce Springsteen — can trace its roots back to the Mississippi Delta and the city of New Orleans. And we have seen how this music traveled to the Liverpool of Paul McCartney, the Dublin of U2, and the New Zealand of Keith Urban. It is a stunningly rich and deep heritage...one tragically threatened by the course of recent events.
With the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in the city of New Orleans and the Gulf region, one of our nation's most vital musical cultures was at risk of being swept away. And in a sad twist of fate, the music community and the musicians who are always there to help others in times of disaster were themselves among the victims.
Enter MusiCares, The Academy's Foundation whose mission is to help music people in need…any time, any place. Within three days of the news, MusiCares and The Recording Academy made a pledge of $1 million to help our music people with basic needs, including musical instruments. We're also working with Music Rising to help ensure that those instruments and equipment get back in the hands of the Gulf Coast musicians who really need them.
Today, with $4 million pledged and having already distributed over $2 million to thousands of music people, MusiCares leads the charge to rebuild their lives and livelihoods and ensure the preservation of our musical history and future. But this will be a long road to travel. So tonight, my message to you is a simple one: continue to give what you can to the ongoing relief effort. Log on to GRAMMY.Yahoo.com where you can take another look at tonight's amazing opening performance by Madonna and the Gorillaz and make a contribution to the MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund. At the same time, consider another way to help...and, really, to help yourself.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has been keeping the cultural flame of New Orleans alive. The city is now looking towards Mardi Gras and this April's Jazzfest to herald its rebirth. This year, more than ever your presence in New Orleans would represent an important show of support. So as we leave you tonight with an all-star celebration of the Crescent City followed by a loving tribute to one of the South's legendary performers, I ask you to GO to New Orleans. Let's join in giving something back to this singular city that has given so much to our world and keep the music playing forever.