Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Country music legend George Strait will headline a concert at the Majestic Theatre Tuesday night to benefit the victims of Hurricane Harvey. He will be joined onstage by other stars such as Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Lyle Lovett, and Robert Earl Keen who will all take part in a one-hour benefit telethon with stages in New York, Nashville, and San Antonio.
"Watching that storm hit Rockport...it just kept comin' and comin' and it just wrecked the place and brought the whole area down," Strait said Tuesday afternoon during a press event at the Majestic. "It was unbelievable to see that. I've got friends with houses under water and they are rebuilding houses that were totally lost."
Strait has a property in the Key Allegro neighborhood in Rockport, and said he would travel there at the end of the week to see the damage for himself.
"It's hard to picture Rockport in my mind and pictures won't tell the whole story until I see it," Strait said. "It is a special place as thousands of Texans go down there every summer and [during the] holidays. Now nobody is there, and the faster we can help get that up the better they'll be."
The telethon, titled "Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief" begins at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast by ABC, CBS, CMT, FOX, and NBC. There also will be live streams on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Celebrities such as Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey, Blake Shelton, Barbra Streisand, George Clooney, Matthew McConaughey, Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Ryan Seacrest, Selena Gomez, and others will participate with taped or live messages.
Proceeds from the telethon will benefit charities including Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Rebuild Texas Fund, Save the Children, and Direct Relief. For a full list of celebrities and to donate, click here.
During Tuesday's press conference preceding the concert Strait was joined onstage by his fellow country singers, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and Gov. Greg Abbott. Nirenberg called Strait "the voice of Texas," and commended him for organizing a concert to benefit those in need.
"I'm a fan because of his music, and he's been a legend in the industry," Nirenberg said, "but I'm an even bigger fan today because of the outpouring of compassion and support that he's shone through this benefit concert."
Proceeds from Strait's concert in San Antonio will go specifically to the Rebuild Texas Fund, set up by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. Tickets for the benefit show at The Majestic Theatre, which holds 2,200 people, sold out in 30 minutes. Louis Messina, a concert promoter who helped put the show together in less than two weeks, said ticket proceeds would total around $3.4 million.
"Tonight every dollar that is donated, Michael and Susan Dell are matching those dollars up to $10 million," Abbott said. "They are going to do everything they can to help Texas rebuild."
In addition, the Cavender family presented a $75,000 check at the Tuesday press event, and the San Antonio Automobile Dealers Association donated $20,000 to the cause.
Abbott thanked Nirenberg for his efforts in opening up evacuation centers in the city and lending a helping hand to more than 1,500 hurricane victims.
"Today is a celebration of the way that people across the entire globe have come together in partnership to show the very best of humanity," Abbott said. " ... In recognition of the way that people have responded, I have issued an official gubernatorial proclamation making Sept. 12, 2017 'Hand in Hand Day' in the Lone Star State."
Abbott recalled images of strangers in boats rescuing and saving victims from floodwaters, emphasizing that Texans came together in a time of great need. The benefit concert at the Majestic, he said, was another great example of that.
"We see here today on this stage musicians working hand in hand to help their great Texas friends by lending their talent and time to help raise money to help so many lives be rebuilt," he said.
Lovett, who lives in North Harris County, said his home was spared from flooding, but he witnessed devastation and other people's homes under water a mere four miles away.
"The pastor of my church, his house was flooded," Lovett said. "To see the outpouring in our community, as an example, has been inspiring and that's what you're doing, George, by bringing us all together."
Lambert said she was grateful join Strait onstage and be a part of the benefit concert.
"We're here for you, and everybody is doing their part to make sure people are taken care of," Lambert said after being asked what message she would send out to fans who are still recovering from the storm's impact. "It's ... about people helping people and loving people during a really hard time. Yes, it's gonna be years of recovery and that's true, but it's not a fleeting moment. We're here to do as much as we can."