The two-hour telethon, called Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief, was shown around the world on television, online and mobile carriers, and featured more than 100 celebrities performing from New York, Los Angeles and London.
Singer Alicia Keys kicked off the benefit with her song Prelude to a Kiss, which included the lyric “Can you send an angel?” before Clooney, one of the telethon’s main organisers, delivered the night’s first address.
“The Haitian people need our help,” said Clooney. “They need to know that they are not alone, they need to know that we still care.”
Up to 1.5 million Haitians lost their homes in the earthquake that rocked the poor Caribbean country on January 12 and killed up to 200,000 people.
The telethon, aiming for the largest-ever global audience, featured musical collaborations, tales of loss and survival, and actors taking donations by phone, while the broadcast relayed shocking images and interviews with Haitians.
“Right now we can see the second wave of this disaster coming,” Jean said from New York. “My country is in great pain.”
From London, US rapper Jay-Z debuted a song with U2’s Bono and The Edge in which Jay-Z blasted verses about the earthquake before Bono and singer Rihanna chimed in with the lyric “Not going to leave you stranded.”
Earlier, Beyonce sang her song Halo with Coldplay’s Chris Martin on piano.
From Los Angeles, singers Sheryl Crow, Keith Urban and Kid Rock strummed acoustic guitar and sang Lean On Me, while Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris performed a duet cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
Other singers included Madonna, Mary J. Blige, Taylor Swift, Shakira, Sting and Jennifer Hudson, who sang a more upbeat version of The Beatles’ Let It Be.
Actors including Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington and Nicole Kidman appeared throughout the broadcast to tell stories of Haitians who had survived under the rubble and the rescue efforts. DiCaprio was one of several stars to donate US$1 million this week.
Bruce Springsteen sang the protest song We Shall Overcome and Stevie Wonder performed Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water with more than a dozen harmonising backup singers.
Proceeds from the telethon will be split among relief organizations including the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, the UN World Food Program, Oxfam America, the Red Cross, UNICEF and Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation. From January 23, all of the performances will be available to buy on Apple’s iTunes.
Relief agencies estimate one-third of Haiti’s 9 million people will need emergency food, water and shelter for an extended period. Donations could be made at hopeforhaitinow.org.