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John Oates revives music festival to help fight pandemic-related hunger crisis

John Oates revives music festival to help fight pandemic-related hunger crisis

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Oates and his wife Aimee are reviving Oates Song Fest 7908 to fundraise for Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.

The economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic is driving up food insecurity across America. Feeding America estimates that one in six Americans could face food insecurity as a result of the pandemic.

“The loss of jobs from this pandemic has had a far-reaching impact on our economy, resulting in millions of American families who can no longer put a meal on the table,” John Oates told CNN. “Aimee and I firmly believe that in our country like ours, no one should go without food.”

The virtual star-studded fundraiser will stream on on March 20 at 8 p.m. ET. Oates and YouTube sensation Saxsquatch will host the event.

Performing for a cause

The original Song Fest 7908, which took place in Aspen, Colorado, featured legendary songwriters performing alongside the next great generation of talent.

The Oates’, who were already making donations to Feeding America themselves, said they were inspired to revive the festival and turn it into a charitable event after hearing about widespread food insecurity across the country.

Katie Fitzgerald, Feeding America’s Chief Operating Officer, said the average increase in need has been relentless since early in the pandemic.

“Feeding America’s network of food banks have consistently since the beginning of the pandemic been reporting an average 60% increase in the number of people seeking charitable food assistance,” Fitzgerald told CNN.

Such alarming statistics inspired the Oates’ to rally other artists and entertainers to help raise funds to tackle food insecurity.

“It’s (food insecurity) in our communities,” Aimee Oates told CNN. “It’s right next door — it’s everywhere.”

“This is a national emergency situation, and the deeper we got into it, the more we were blown away and astounded, and angered in a sense, by the amount of food insecurity that’s going on in this country,” John Oates said. “We began to reach out to some of the artists who were involved with the first songwriters festival ten years ago.”

The duo got an incredible response.

“We realized what we were doing was providing an avenue and a platform for a lot of musicians and creative people to do something on a bigger scale to help a lot of people in this country,” John Oates said. “When you can affect the place where you live, it’s all incremental, but it all adds up to a total of awareness and action across the board.”

Event features a star-studded line-up

The event will be produced by Drive Entertainment and feature performances from across all genres, including Oates’ bandmate Daryl Hall.

Other stars on the line-up include: Michael McDonald, Sheila E., The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, Van Halen’s Sammy Hagar, Darius Rucker, Malina Moye, Sara Bareilles and Jewel.

There will also be a handful of guest appearances, including: actress Tichina Arnold, R&B artist Monica, actress Angie Harmon, The Professor (Basketball Genius), actress Hayley Orrantia and singer-songwriter Margo Rey.

“It is something special,” John Oates said. “And I think a lot of the artists went above and beyond to create some beautiful performance pieces.”

While the livestream will be free for all to enjoy, viewers are encouraged to make a monetary donation to Feeding America. During the Oates Song Fest broadcast, viewers can donate via a unique QR code and through the link here.

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It was the first new episode since cohost Sharon Osbourne left the CBS daytime talk show in the wake of a heated discussion she had with fellow cohost Sheryl Underwood over Osbourne’s support of her friend, Piers Morgan.

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