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CNN Live Event/Special

We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert; Music Legends Take The Stage In NYC's Central Park; Interview With NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) About Concert At Central Park; Hurricane Henri Takes Aim At Northeast. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 21, 2021 - 16:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You are looking live at Central Park where a crowd of New Yorkers arriving for the concert marking the city's resilience in facing the coronavirus pandemic.

I'm Anderson Cooper. "We Love New York City, The Homecoming Concert" is now less than an hour away on the park's great lawn. 60,000 tickets were given out, 80 percent of them free. It's part of an effort by the city to encourage COVID vaccinations. Everyone 12 and up have to show proof of vaccination to get in.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has called this concert historic and a celebration for a city that's overcome incredible challenges in the last year. The mayor teamed up with legendary music producer Clive Davis to produce tonight's show that includes opera legend Andrea Bocelli who will be performing with the New York Philharmonic, rapper LL Cool J will be joined by many surprise guests, singer Jennifer Hudson is taking the stage for a special performance.

Paul Simon, no stranger to concerts in Central Park, having performed two on the great lawn before. And "The Boss," Bruce Springsteen, will be performing as well.

As we wait to start the big show, we want to check in with our reporters who are on the ground in Central Park. CNN's Erica Hill is keeping track of tonight's music headliners.

Erica, what do you expect?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a great lineup to put it mildly. You just hit on some of them, Anderson. I can tell you that there's some folks in the pen to my left that are very excited about both Andrea Bocelli and the Boss. And this is a lineup that is really -- I think if you look at it, it's as diverse as the city of New York itself. A lot of hometown love here, a lot of New York artists, but there are also artists from all over. And that really, too, I think plays to the diversity of the city and the lineup.

There really is a little bit of something in terms of music for everyone. The New York Philharmonic is here, you mentioned Paul Simon, we've got LL Cool J, Jennifer Hudson, Barry Manilow, Santana. The list goes on and on. It's a great assignment, I can tell you that, as you well know. Things

have been really filling in since they opened the gates at 3:00. And we saw people running in, I mean, big smiles on everybody's faces. It is hot, it is humid here. Nobody seems to mind the weather, running to get as close as they could. As you mentioned, everybody has to be vaccinated, everybody who's eligible, so those 12 and up.

We're still seeing a fair amount of masks in the crowd as well. Obviously you can keep those on if you feel more comfortable doing it. But a lot of excitement here in the air. And a lot of celebration because this is -- this has been a long battle as you know, Anderson, being a New Yorker. It's been a long 17 months in this city. And so lots to celebrate tonight.

COOPER: Erica, I also appreciate you not correcting me for saying Botticelli instead of Bocelli. If Botticelli showed up, that would be something. That would be a big deal.

HILL: I did say there were surprise guests, so, you know.


COOPER: That would be the birth of a new Venus. Thank you very much, Erica. We'll check back in.

CNN's Athena Jones is with concertgoers as they are entering for the concert.

Athena, you've been watching people as they're showing their proof that they've been vaccinated.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson, that's exactly right. This is a massive undertaking. As we've been saying, this is an event ticketed for 60,000 people, every single one of them over the age of 12 has to show proof of ID. And this is one of the places where the folks are checking that they have that proof. It can be a CDC vaccination card or even a picture of it. It can be something that's called New York State Excelsior app. It's on your iPhone.

There's also a New York City COVID Safe app. They have to show that proof of vaccination along with an ID. Children who are under 12 have to show that they've had a negative COVID test in the last 72 hours and they also must wear a mask because they're unvaccinated.

You know, as we've been saying, this has been billed as a celebration of New York. The mayor calling it a historic, momentous moment, celebrating all of these hard-working New Yorkers who've struggled so much over the last almost year and a half of this pandemic, but they want to do it as safely as possible. Organizers say you can't make this entirely risk free but you can mitigate the risk by making it outside, by making sure everyone has at least one shot of vaccine if they're going to be coming in.

They're encouraging the use of masks. They're not requiring it. But there are thousands and thousands of masks to give out. And they also point out, New York City is already a heavily vaccinated city. Just to give you one indication, 75 percent of adults in New York have received at least one dose. So this is a celebration of the city, a celebration of the city's workers, and also in some ways, a reward to people who are following the public health guidance, doing the right thing by getting vaccinated to protect themselves, their families, and their community -- Anderson.

COOPER: Athena, we'll check in with you shortly again.

CNN's entertainment Chloe Melas is with me now here. It is really a remarkable lineup. They've got some great guests.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: It's unprecedented, Anderson. Over 20 of music's biggest icons are going to be taking the stage.


And, you know, when I have been talking to people throughout the week and Clive Davis' son Doug Davis earlier today, many people are saying it's our version of Woodstock. All right, so it's not a multi-day festival, but if you think about the sheer greatness of the amount of these performers, many of whom Clive Davis discovered, you know, including Bruce Springsteen, he signed him to his first record deal, this is going to be interesting and quite a feat, right?

I mean, this is live television. And it's going to be on a rotating stage. So that in itself, as a music lover myself and I love going to festivals and concerts, that's going to be interesting to see. As one act is performing, another act is getting ready to come on. So hopefully there's this seamless transition. And, we you know there might be a little bit of rain. And I'm telling you, though, that some of the greatest musical performances of all time have happened in the rain.

COOPER: Diana Ross in Central Park, singing in the rain.

MELAS: And Prince at his Super Bowl half time concert.

COOPER: Yes. There was a lot of mud at Woodstock as well, as well as a lot of other things, I heard.

MELAS: I didn't it was more exciting.


MELAS: I'm just saying it's our, you know --

COOPER: This doesn't look quite the Woodstock.


COOPER: It's got a different vibe to it.

MELAS: Not the same --

COOPER: It's more of a Sunday New York vibe. MELAS: Well, what I will say, Anderson, is that this is going to be

one of those moments that you're going to say that you were either there or you watched it, or you're going to know somebody who was there. And it's historic.


MELAS: This is a huge monumental undertaking.

COOPER: Especially at a time where, you know, people have not been together and to suddenly see people together in a way, and doing it safely as they can. New York City has been working hard to vaccinate those who have been reluctant to get a hot. Tonight's concert was a way to motivate more residents to get vaccinated.

Joining me now is the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio.

Mayor, thanks so much for being with us. Why have a concert -- I mean, a lot of people watching this are obviously going to, A, think it's a fine idea, others will say, is this the best time, there's a hurricane coming and COVID?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: Anderson, we have to show our strength and resiliency. New Yorkers have been through so much but New Yorkers fought through it, and did the right thing and got vaccinated. 75 percent, at least one dose of the vaccine. And what we're doing in the city, we're saying if you want to be part of all the great things in life, the concerts, the restaurants, everything, get vaccinated.

So this is a reward. It's a reward to the essential workers, it's a reward to everyday New Yorkers who have done the right thing and it's a message really to people all over this country. We can do great things together. But just go out there and get vaccinated.

COOPER: What are you doing to keep people safe in this?

DE BLASIO: Look, outdoors, fully vaccinated, the mask distribution. There's lots of space. It's a big, open setup.

COOPER: People are able to spread out. It looked like people were spreading out blankets and stuff so that --

DE BLASIO: Yes, they're spaced. And look, we really said to people we want this to be safe. And the most important thing, our doctors have said this absolutely consistently. You want to be safe from COVID, you want to defeat the Delta variant once and for all, it's all about vaccination. Nothing compares. What we're seeing now is, as we have concerts like this and indoor dining is now all vaccination, we're seeing an upsurge in people coming forward. The last two weeks over 100,000 --

COOPER: Coming forward to get vaccinated.

DE BLASIO: Get vaccinated. Over 100,000 people each of the last two weeks got vaccinated for the first time. 60 percent of them were people of color. So there's been real concerns legitimately about disparity with vaccinations. When you give people an opportunity to get a positive outcome and also say this is what we have to do and we're providing $100 incentive for everyone who comes forward, we're seeing a surge in vaccinations. And that's great.

COOPER: So in order to get in this, you only need one vaccination also for the return to indoor dining, going to gyms, you also only need one vaccination. Why did you go for that, and not fully vaccinated?

DE BLASIO: As an incentive. Look, if you say to people you have to wait a month to go through both shots, some people are going to be put off by that obviously. I want some instant gratification, honestly. I want people to know, you want to go in that restaurant, you want to go to that movie theater, that concert, you can get vaccinated right now and an hour later, you're having a great time.

You should go back and get the second shot. We have vast majority of New Yorkers go back for their second shot. So we feel confident about that. But I think the notion of making it positive. What an amazing life there is in this city. And people are celebrating. These artists want to show their love for New York City, their faith in New York City. But it's also a message to everyone that simple act of getting vaccinated makes everything else possible.

COOPER: How do you enforce that -- not here, we see people, you know, checking, but there's a lot of business owners, small business owners, who say look, I'm barely getting by as it is, to make me the police officer to, you know, check vaccination cards, that's too much.

DE BLASIO: Look, small businesses have been through a lot. There's no doubt. Restaurants, bars, everyone. First of all, what we're saying is for next month we're going to give people a chance to get used to it, get them some training, get them some support. Also, remember, every business has some version, ones we're talking about, restaurants, card people for age before serving drinks, bars. You know, you go to a health club, fitness club, you check in, you show your ID, whatever it is.


There's a way to do this for sure. And what we're seeing is a lot of the customers are saying thank you and a lot of the owners of the businesses are saying thank you because they're not the ones making the decision, the city government said you have to do this. But their customers feel safe now and their employees are safe. That's what they really appreciate.

COOPER: So you got schools starting in a few weeks. I think more than a million students going back to school. You're not requiring vaccination for kids over 12 to get back to school. Why?

DE BLASIO: We are encouraging it, and supporting it, we have over 300,000 kids now in that 12 to 17 range already vaccinated. Well, almost a month out from school. We have a heavy, heavy back to school vaccination drive going. We're going to see a lot more kids vaccinated. But look, there's been so much misinformation. And we know a lot of parents still need some help to believe in it and be ready. I don't want to exclude kids from education in the meantime.

But what we've said to -- for all our city government employees, they have to be vaccinated or do the weekly test. We've also said, I've said we've been climbing a ladder in terms of mandates and policies and we will add policies as we need to keep people safe.

COOPER: Can you see a time when city employees, it's mandatory evacuation? Because, as you know, a weekly test once a week, you know, it's better than nothing, but it's not ideal obviously.

DE BLASIO: No, but it is also something that's a challenge for our people to have to do that every single week. And if they don't do it, there are penalties.

COOPER: The idea of being inconvenient therefore they get vaccinated.

DE BLASIO: A lot of them are now saying, I'm just going to go ahead and get vaccinated. But look, we need our kids back in school, I'm adamant about this. We're not having remote as we had last year, we saw the tremendous limitations of remote for our kids, for their -- not just educationally for their social and emotional well-being. For their physical well-being. Our kids are all coming back to school.

But we set a gold standard of health and safety protocols in our schools. It worked. Last year, incredibly safe in New York City public schools, safer than almost any place else in the city. Now we've got 5.2 million New Yorkers, at least one dose, and 300,000 kids in that 12 to 17 range, I'm confident this is going to be a safe setting because we are putting all these measures in place at once.

COOPER: Let's talk about the storm Henri. It's a French storm.


COOPER: Different this time.


COOPER: But -- what are you expecting for New York City? Obviously it's supposed to make landfall on Sunday, not exactly clear, you know, you can never predict exactly where it's going to make landfall.

DE BLASIO: Yes. Right after this, I'm going to hold a press conference to tell the people of New York City first of all be very, very careful tomorrow. I want people off the streets, staying home, staying safe, heavy winds, heavy rain in New York City. It's going to be a lot worse in some other places like eastern Long Island. I'm really concerned for our friends and neighbors there. But in New York City I think wind and rain are the first issues of concern.

Some of the coastal areas we're concerned about flooding. Last we're hearing this will be late night tonight before we see anything. But we're going to get ready and have a variety of measures in place to protect people. And the number one thing, look, the good news about New Yorkers is they really hear these messages and act on them. That's why, you know, 75 percent of adults have gotten at least one dose of vaccine. Well, I'm telling all New Yorkers stay home tomorrow. Stay out of harm's way.

COOPER: What do you hope folks around the country watching this concert, around the world watching this concert, take away from it? Besides being entertained, what does it say about New York City?

DE BLASIO: That New York City is back, that we are strong and resilient, that New Yorkers, the heart and soul of New Yorkers, that's why we came through this crisis. And all of these amazing artists, it is arguably the greatest lineup since Woodstock. It really -- I mean, it's an unbelievable lineup. They're all doing it because they love New York City and they want to help New York City come back and they believe in New York City.

And to everyone out there, come visit us, come join us, this is going to be -- because of all of that vaccination one of the safest places to be in America. Broadway is coming back full strength. Everything you love about New York City, open, ready for you.

COOPER: We were talking about this before we went on air, all those people who, you know, were talking, you know, there were a lot of articles written about the death of the city, New York City. This is certainly to me as a lifelong New Yorker is a reminder of part of what makes New York New York. I mean, there's not a lot of other cities that can pull off something like this with this kind of a lineup of people. And, you know, 80 percent of it is free for people who want to come.

DE BLASIO: And that's a New York value, too, Anderson. We wanted it to be for everyday people. We didn't want this to be something just for those who happen to have done very well. Vast majority of these tickets are for everyday people to appreciate and celebrate their city. But what it says is, yes, we can do things here that the whole world looks at with appreciation and admiration, and what we're saying to folks is believe in this place.

Yes, there were doubting Thomases in the beginning of COVID, a lot of voices that didn't understand that history you just referred to. But plenty of people, New Yorkers and from around the country stood up and said, don't bet against New York City. This is not only the nation's largest city, this is the heart and soul of this country in so many ways. This city represents everything in America, every kind of American, people from all over the world.


And that's the glue. That's the glue, that somehow all of humanity gathered in one place to make something stronger, greater than the sum of the parts. That's what we're celebrating today. And New York City is back. And New York City is going to go to higher heights after COVID.

COOPER: Mayor Bill de Blasio, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

DE BLASIO: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: A lot going on in the crowd in Central Park getting ready. Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, The Killers, Carlos Santana, Jennifer Hudson all just moments away. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back. This is the scene on the great lawn in New York City Central Park. We're about to see it, where thousands are waiting for the main event, the concert featuring music's biggest stars to celebrate the city's resilience in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Our own Don Lemon is going to be co-hosting tonight's concert together with Jimmy Fallon and Gayle King. Don is backstage with one of the big stars in tonight's show.

Don, how is it going?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I'm so excited to have none other than Jon Batiste here. Say hi, how you doing?

JON BATISTE, MUSICIAN: I'm great. How you doing?

LEMON: The house band of course as you know on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert." Some killer songs out like "Freedom" and "I need you."

BATISTE: That's the thing.

LEMON: How you doing? You're a homeboy.

BATISTE: Yes. Louisiana.

LEMON: Louisiana.


BATISTE: In the house. You know, we've got to do our thing, represent.

LEMON: How does it feel to be back out performing? Because you perform every night on the "Late Show," but now you're actually in front of a big audience. So what does it feel like?

BATISTE: Well, you know, it's crazy because I didn't think anything like this could happen even at this point. You know, we're facing so much with this pandemic. But for us to pull together and bring people together in the spirit of togetherness, that's what I play for.


BATISTE: That's the reason that I play.

LEMON: Yes. And let's be honest, though, before you walked up, you know, both of us, we're wearing masks, right?


LEMON: And we're talking to each other now, distanced and everything. We're back sort of. We've still got a ways to go. Do you keep that in mind as you're doing this?

BATISTE: It ain't over until it's over. We have such a ways to go. And I don't think we're actually going to get there unless we focus on getting people this vaccine, and we focus on getting people to understand that we're not out of it.


BATISTE: Even if we're performing tonight. Everything that's happening tonight is an example of what can happen if we get together and get out of this.

LEMON: I love hearing you say it ain't over until it's over. Get out of this. You got that accent.

BATISTE: It's -- you know, I've been here for 10 years, and I still cannot get rid of it, and I don't want to.

LEMON: But, you know, you're all about spirit, you're all about heart. What helped you get through this? Because maybe you can sort of encourage others because people are still trying to remerge back into society.

BATISTE: God helped me get through this and is helping me every day, family. All the things that really matter, all the things that if you go anywhere across the world, the things we're fighting for.


BATISTE: God, family, our community, our lineage, our legacy. That's what I think about. So think about your grandparents, and your great grandparents, and everything that they had to do to lead up to this moment so that you are here. And I think if they could get through the things that they got through, it's not so bad for me.

LEMON: You're busy every five days a week doing what you do.

BATISTE: Yes. Yes.

LEMON: Why did you decide to do this? This is a big undertaking to come here and do this.

BATISTE: I love, love, love, love, love playing for people. I love giving people this musical offering because I think it is a balm (PH) in these times. Every time that I perform -- the last time I really performed for this many people was in a protest. We marched and I led a protest in Union Square after the execution of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

So for me it's not really about the idea of playing for myself. I'm always playing for people and always playing to connect to God. If I can connect to God through my offering, then I know that's going to move the people. I don't have to worry about myself. I just ride the wave. I get out of the way. Let the wave take me.

LEMON: Jon, you're the best. I'm so proud of you, homeboy. BATISTE: Man, I love seeing you all the time.


LEMON: I appreciate you being here. Jon Batiste, everyone. The best. Stay human.

BATISTE: Stay human. Let's do it.

LEMON: Thank you.

COOPER: Gayle King is also backstage talking to stars of tonight's show. Gayle?

GAYLE KING, CO-HOST, "CBS THIS MORNING": -- with country music sensation and sensation is the word, Kane Brown, the man behind hits like "Worldwide Beautiful" and my personal favorite "Worship You." King Brown.

I'm so glad you are here. I'm so excited.


KING: So this is the thing, I was here at rehearsal yesterday. And I noticed that they have -- everybody from all different genres. But you, Kane Brown, are the only one, the only one from the country music genre. I personally think that's an excellent choice, Clive Davis. So what does that mean to you?

BROWN: It means the world to me. I'm just excited to be here, I'm excited to be doing shows again for all the fans, especially with all of this talent that's on stage. Can't wait to see the show.

KING: I know.

BROWN: Thanks for having me.

KING: I know. Let's talk about the talent because I was walking around looking at all the signs. I don't know if you were doing it but I was being a Lookey Lu. Everywhere you look there's somebody that you want to know or somebody that you do know, or somebody you want to meet. Does the bill meet your approval?

BROWN: By far. There's people I never thought I'd see in a show here so it's cool, I can't wait to see like The Killers.

KING: Yes.

BROWN: It's going to be awesome.

KING: The other thing I was thinking, you have so many hits and you have so many options to choose from, I did mention at the top, Kane, that my personal favorite is "Worship You." Do with that what you will. But how did you decide what you're going to sing tonight?

BROWN: We're going to dedicate my some "Homesick" to the frontline workers.

KING: Oh, I love that, too. Yes.

BROWN: And then we were hoping that Caleeb was going to get to "Be Like That" with me.

KING: Yes.

BROWN: So if he's not, I'm going to do it myself, but it was a pretty big hit for us on this -- got to get up there and see what happens.

KING: I think something good is going to happen when you get on stage. This is the thing, I know what you said about getting back in front of an audience because nobody has been able to perform. And tonight you're going to be performing for 60,000 people.


KING: What does that mean to you?

BROWN: Hopefully it means they're getting to start shows again.

KING: Yes. I hope so, too. I also think for those who don't know Kane Brown's personal story, you should check it out. You've got an amazing personal story, somebody who clearly pulled themselves up from their boot straps. What do you say to people who are watching you tonight who are going through that journey? What advice do you have for someone coming from you who's actually been there?


BROWN: Yes. I would just say stay strong and never let anybody bring you down. Always going to have people telling you, you can't do anything. So just make sure that you prove them wrong.

KING: You're always going to have somebody pulling you down, telling you can't do something. When somebody does that to you, what do you do, Kane Brown?

BROWN: I just show them that I can do it. Yes.

KING: And he can do it. Congratulations. I can't wait to see you on stage tonight.

BROWN: Thank you so much./

KING: "Worship You."

BROWN: "Worship You."


COOPER: We've got much more coming up from Central Park. We're watching the city and some of its most iconic performers pay a special tribute, that's next.


COOPER: Billy Joel says he wrote the song "New York State of Mind" in about 15 minutes when he was actually on a Greyhound bus traveling along the Hudson River. He'd been living in Los Angeles in the early '70s, he was returning to New York, which is his home, which was upstate at the time.


COOPER: Now his iconic song has become an anthem for a city making a comeback. Some of the city's most recognizable entertainers recently got together to record an all-new music video to help lift up the city.

Let's go to Central Park and watch.




BEN STILLER, COMEDIAN: This is Ben Stiller. Help build the next NYC. Support. Volunteer. Join. Visit

COOPER: New York State of Mind. A lot of folks in Central Park right now in that state of mind.

One of the performers, you have noticed, by the way, was Alexa Ray Joel, Billy Joel's daughter.

The concert is a few minutes away with Bruce Springsteen, The Killers, Maluma, Elvis Costello, and so many more.

When we come back, I'll talk with legendary music producer, Clive Davis, who helped create tonight's star-studded lineup.



COOPER: Welcome back. We are moments away from the concert starting.

Clive Davis is the legendary music producer who help launch the careers of most of the stars taking the stage tonight.

Joining me, the music legend himself, Clive Davis.

Clive, thank you so much for being with us.

You have launched the careers of so many people. Why did you want to produce a legendary concert like this that we're about to see tonight?

CLIVE DAVIS, MUSIC PRODUCER: Well, first of all, I was asked by the mayor, who called me up and said at a meeting with his team, the city event organization and the Park Commission, they were saying you're the only one that can do this. Whether that's true or not, he asked me.

Look, Anderson, I am a born and bred New Yorker. My whole education, my work ethic, P.S. 161 in Brooklyn, to arrive in high school in Brooklyn, and NYU.

And when I had no money, my parents died when I was a teenager, I had $4,000 to my name, New York rose up, gave me scholarships, both to NYU and to a law school.

So I am indebted to New York and its culture. I learned music, I learn the symphony and I learned Broadway, as well as pop and rock. So I am totally indebted to New York City.

COOPER: I love that allegiance to New York and that history that you have with this.

There's really no more special place than Central Park to celebrate the reopening of the city, especially with all the city and all of us have gone through.

The musical history just in this park, I mean, you think that Diana Ross' concert in the rain. I remember as a kid James Taylor had a free concert in Central Park with a huge turnout.

It is an iconic space to have an event like this.

DAVIS: Without question. I was there with Simon and Garfunkel. I was there witnessing Barbara Streisand and others.

It couldn't be a greater venue in order to celebrate the reopening of New York.

So this was a challenge. This is not one artist. We've come up with about 18 iconic or new artists to represent, Anderson, every genre of music.

We're talking rock, rap, pop, Broadway, and even classical music. We have the New York philharmonic, all 75 members of them.

We're going to make use of this incredible stage and venue.

COOPER: How long does it take to prepare something like this?

DAVIS: Well, we have been working on it, I would say, about a total of eight weeks. And that was --

COOPER: That's it? Wow.

DAVIS: -- beginning, right after --

COOPER: I would have thought this was like a six-months process.

DAVIS: Oh, no. No, no, no. I got called about two months ago. And obviously, I went to those artists, and I was personally not only involved with, but our lifelong relationship maintains to this very day. I called Bruce Springsteen. I knew he was on Broadway every night. I

knew it might involve a cancellation of one night of this incredible Broadway run. But did he respond? Yes. He is going to do a song, incredible duet with the great Patty Smith.


DAVIS: And of course, I called Patty and Paul Simon, Barry Manilow, Jennifer Hudson, artists, Earth, Wind and Fire, that I had even discovered or been working meaningfully with them. That formed the initial nucleus.


And then with my team of Doug Davis and others, we went out and recruited, calling the manager first, but going after the best artists of the genre that I was talking about.

So Cynthia Erivo will sing two incredible Broadway songs. And Maluma, the great Latin artist, of course, is going to be there. And The Killers and Elvis Costello. You've seen the list of names.

I think these artists are the real deal. These artists are the best ambassadors really of music of any genre.

And creatively. When I called LL Cool J and we wanted to capture his historic icons from New York, and how to present it, he came up with the brilliant idea that he will interface with Busta Rhymes and A Boogie with a Hoodie. I am sure you heard A Boogie with a Hoodie.

COOPER: Absoltuely.

DAVIS: And it is going to be fascinating.

COOPER: I have to tell you, Elvis Costello was one of the first concerts I went to as a kid. It was for his "Armed Forces" album, which is still one of the great albums.

As a son of the city, what's your message on this day to all those in the park, to all those in the city who have been through so much?

DAVIS: We have been through a painful, debilitating pandemic. We must remain vigilant. We must take every safety measure to emerge from this.

But what is heartening with the increasing amount of vaccination, Broadway is coming back. Great restaurants of New York are reopening.

And music once again is the messenger.

So this comes with all these great artists.

And these great songs that they'll be singing and playing will serve to tell the rest of the world, that New York, the culture capital of the world, without question, the melting pot, bringing -- you don't have to homogenize when you're in New York. You can play. You can put on Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams and all of the serious dramas as well as the great musicals.

So the great city of New York is being reopened and music is the messenger.

COOPER: From one son of the city to another, Clive Davis, thank you. Thank you for doing this and thank you for being with us today.

DAVIS: Thank you. Thanks so much.

COOPER: While we await the concert, we want to keep track of the severe weather heading to the northeast.

CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers is tracking it for us.

Chad, you just got in a new update. What's the latest?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A 5:00 advisory, still a hurricane, 75 miles per hour. Forecast in 12 hours to be an 80 miles-per-hour storm.

It's 330 miles south of Long Island right now. That's where we think it is headed. Hurricane warnings are in effect from Rhode Island through parts of Connecticut on to Long Island.

There is your landfall sometime tomorrow, noon or thereafter.

But the conditions will go down sooner than that. Don't look at noon and say I have until then. We're going to have a lot of trees down. We're going to have surge five-feet. That is going to be significant. Hundreds of thousands without power for days -- Anderson?

COOPER: Is it going to rain tonight for the concert, during the concert?

MYERS: There are a few showers out there. But this is still 300 miles away. Its arms haven't reached out. That's the good news.

There could be a shower. We're watching lightning. I will be here all night long watching everything that goes on, on this radar.

COOPER: Senior meteorologist, Chad Myers.

"We Love New York City, The Homecoming Concert" starts in just a moment. The Killers, Barry Manilow, Bruce Springsteen, Patty Smith, LL Cool J and many others all take the stage in the next few hours.


Stay with us.


COOPER: We are back. "We Love New York City, The Homecoming Concert," moments away from hearing some of the legends in the music industry, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Jennifer Hudson. All performing on the great lawn over the next several hours.

CNN's Don Lemon is co-hosting tonight's concert. He is talking to stars before they take the stage -- Don?

LEMON: As you can probably see, I am backstage at the "We Love New York, The Homecoming Concert."

Right out of the corner of my eye, I see someone. Look who it is.

Hey, Julia Michaels. How are you?


LEMON: Julia Michaels, I mean, you penned some big songs with big people. I think I may have heard of them and yourself.

How are you?

MICHAELS: I am good. How are you?

LEMON: Are you excited to be performing at this event?

MICHAELS: Of course I am. This is the first time I have been out of my house in a year and a half, so.

LEMON: Are you serious?


LEMON: Really? Do nerves come with that after having not performed?

MICHAELS: Yes, but also I am weirdly very excited. Normally, I get anxious, now I'm excited.

I get to perform with JP Saxe.


LEMON: JP Saxe, right.

MICHAELS: -- if the world is ending today.

LEMON: So --

MICHAELS: This is the biggest crowd he's ever played to. Probably the second biggest crowd I've ever played to. So it is going to be fun.

LEMON: Julia, if you know the latest, it seems like it came from a place of like retrospect, intro specs. It really dug in this time.

MICHAELS: Yes, I mean, I always do that.


LEMON: Is it metamorphosis for you? What is it? MICHAELS: No, not really. I feel like I've always been very honest and

open. This album I put out, "Not in Chronological Order," talks a lot about love in a healthy way, which I had never experienced, "Let's Go, Puppy Love."



MICHAELS: And, yes, it felt good to be able to talk about, put out.

And my fans have been wonderful.

LEMON: Do you feel like, everybody else dealing with everything and a lot, do you think you're helping others with this?

I think you were probably going through the same thing everybody else was going through.

MICHAELS: That's the hope, right? That's the hope when you're an artist that you reach people all over the world and they can confide in your music and, you know, you find like-minded people along the way.

So my hope is people connect to it and felt something from it.

LEMON: When you said this is the biggest crowd I performed in front of in a while, JP Saxe.


COOPER: People are having issues reemerging and --

MICHAELS: No pun intended.


LEMON: Yes. It is real.

What do you say to folks?

MICHAELS: Yes. You know, I think one step at a time. At your pace. Take it slow and take it easy.

LEMON: Yes. Look, we still have a ways to go.

MICHAELS: Yes, we do.

LEMON: But New York City is really making strides.

MICHAELS: It's so amazing. So happy for you guys.

LEMON: A lot of New Yorkers on the front lines, front line workers -

MICHAELS: Absolutely.

LEMON: -- everyday people really helping out.

What's your message to folks who are coming out today?

MICHAELS: My message is I hope you guys have a good time. It takes -- I know people are scared right now. It takes a lot of courage to get out of your house but we're going to have a really wonderful time. I hope you guys can sing with us and dance with us, and, yes.

LEMON: You're so lovely and you look amazing. I almost wore this outfit, but I didn't.

MICHAELS: You should have.


MICHAELS: I feel like I could be your co-host right now.

LEMON: You could. We are.

MICHAELS: We're matching.

LEMON: Thank you.

MICHAELS: Thank you, guys, so much.

Back to you.

LEMON: Thank you.

Back to you. She said it.


COOPER: Incredibly talented.

We have a remarkable show coming up in just a moment. Jennifer Hudson, the Oscar and Grammy winner. We'll have a special performance with the New York Philharmonic.

Paul Simon will make his third appearance in Central Park. Played the place before. Once with Art Garfunkel in 1981 and a solo concert in 1991.

Bruce Springsteen, who helped write the song, will be performing tonight together with Patty Smith. LL Cool J will be joined by some of the biggest stars in the hip-hop world.

Barry Manilow, he will sing a lot of hits tonight. Paulo G (ph), whose hit song "Rap Star" has been creating a lot of buzz this summer will be taking the stage.

Maluma, pop star, one of Latin America's top-selling artists, will perform. A huge following on social media. A million followers on Instagram alone.

A lot to talk about, a lot to watch. CNN entertainment reporter, Chloe Melas, is with me. And Erica Hill is

in Central Park.

Erica, let's start with you.

You're there on the ground. What is the vibe like? How's it looking?

HILL: What's fun is, it is filling in behind me on the great lawn. They actually just stopped it a couple minutes ago.

But we see the philharmonic. Somebody warming up the crowd. It was really a moment to see people putting their hands in the air, starting to dance.

Excitement building for the diverse lineup. We have been saying it throughout the hour, it is important, it speaks to the diversity of the city. All different types of musical acts, also from all over.

That's really so much of what makes New York City such an incredible, resilient city -- Anderson?


And, Chloe, I mean, it's still surprising to see so many people in one place after all we have been through.

Everybody has to at least have one vaccine shot and show proof of that just to enter.

For a lot of performers -- we just heard, it was THE first time she has been outside in so long.

MELAS: I mean, think about this. So many people have missed, including myself, live music. It has been nearly two years.

I have been interviewing artists through the course of the pandemic. Yes, it is great to perform virtually, on Zoom and Instagram Live Connect. But to connect with a live audience, is what so many stars say they miss.

I've interviewed many of the performers that will be taking the stage tonight. These are some of the greatest artists of our generation. It's going to be emotional for concert goers to see them all in one place in Central Park.

COOPER: Who are you looking forward to?

MELAS: I love Maluma. I'm really excited for Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, the Boss.

Who are you excited for?

COOPER: Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello. I can't remember if my first concert was "Armed Forces" or "Grand Master."

MELAS: Ok. We need photos of that. COOPER: No photos in existence.


COOPER: I can't imagine they're very flattering.

Great to be covering this with you.

The concert will be starting in about 10 seconds. It is an incredibly exciting day for New York City to see so many people from all walks of life in Central Park trying to safely get together.


"We Love New York City, The Homecoming Concert" starts right now.