Benefit concerts attract big names

Michael Jackson, The Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, Huey Lewis and the News and Mariah Carey were just some of the musicians who traveled to the nation’s capital Sunday, to kick off the first of three concerts this weekend to help raise money for the families of the victims who died Sept. 11, and lift the spirits of Americans.

The concert, called “United We Stand: What More Can I Give?” raised about $2 million through the sales of more than 46,000 tickets. The D.C. concert followed a blowout event Saturday at the Madison Square Garden in New York, which featured artists such as Paul McCartney, The Who, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Billy Joel and David Bowie. Similarly, a concert was held in Nashville with some of country music’s top stars, including Alan Jackson, George Jones, Lonestar, Lee Ann Womack, Vince Gill, Tim McGraw and Trisha Yearwood.

The Backstreet Boys opened the D.C. concert at the RFK stadium with a rousing rendition of the national anthem. They paid special tribute to one of their crew members who was onboard one of the flights that slammed into the World Trade Center.

“It’s a privilege to be here today to salute all of the heroes,” Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean told the crowd. Other member Kevin Richardson added, “We can’t let them defeat us. We have to get up, get out and live our lives every day.”

The concert ended with Jackson‘s song “What More Can I Give?” which he wrote for the attack victims. In a spray of red, white and blue confetti, Jackson said to the families of victims, “You are not alone. You are in our hearts, in our thoughts and in our prayers.”

The total raised from the charity benefits over the weekend are expected to equal or exceed up to $150 million raised during the Sept. 21 celebrity telethon, “America: A Tribute to Heroes,” organized by Hollywood’s elite.