There are the kinds of superheroes you see in summer popcorn movies, and then there are real-life superheroes. Some of the biggest rock stars in the world have proved that they also have some of the biggest hearts, by giving generously of their time and money to causes they care about. Some you’ve probably heard of—their charitable works are nearly as famous as they are—but some will likely surprise you. Here are our Top 10 musical superstar superheroes. Watch some of these superheroes—and lots more—in 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief on Sundance Channel Wednesday at 7:30P. Author: Nina Hammerling Smith
10. MADONNA - In 2006, Madonna cofounded the organization Raising Malawi, which endeavors to end poverty and support the million-plus orphaned children in the African nation by providing food, clothing, medicine, shelter, education and emotional support. (The star adopted her son David from Malawi.) Madonna has also been a longtime supporter of the AIDS research organization amfAR.
9. BEYONCÉ - A Houston native, Beyoncé rallied support for the region after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 by helping families who had been displaced by the storm. From that initial act came her Survivor Foundation, which is now sponsoring the building of an apartment complex to help make a dent in the homelessness problem in her hometown. She also pitches in by delivering meals to shelters through Feeding America.
8. JUSTIN BIEBER
8. JUSTIN BIEBER - We know, we know, it sounds like a punch line—the baby-faced Biebs is only 18, what could he possibly have done for charity? Plenty, as it turns out. For one thing, he released a single on Mother’s Day and donated all proceeds to help single moms (like his own). As his birthday gift, he asked friends and fans to contribute to charity: water, which makes potable water available to people in need around the world. He has also made large personal gifts and rallied Beliebers to donate to causes like the Children’s Wish Foundation, Pencils of Promise, Musicians on Call, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and more.
7. BONO - It’s safe to say that nearly everyone knows that Bono is an advocate for charitable causes across the globe. His (RED) campaign—which has been splashed all over billboards and stores ranging from the Gap to Apple—strives to end AIDS in Africa. He has also become an advocate for the cause of forgiving third-world debt and ending poverty in some of the world’s poorest countries.
6. LADY GAGA
6. LADY GAGA - “Bullying victim” may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Gaga, but that’s part of what makes her who she is (she’s spoken out about an incident where she was thrown in a trash can on the street as a kid). Her Born This Way Foundation, launched in 2011, seeks to create a “kinder, braver world” for young people through advocacy, communication and community. She has also lent her support to the MAC AIDS Fund, GLSEN and the Trevor Project.
5. ALICIA KEYS
5. ALICIA KEYS - The songstress has performed in numerous benefit concerts to raise money for causes like Haiti earthquake relief, World AIDS Day, poverty awareness and Hurricane Katrina victims (she’s part of the 12-12-12 lineup, too). But most of her philanthropic efforts go toward the charity she co-founded, Keep a Child Alive, which supplies treatment, comfort and information to children in Africa and India who are afflicted with HIV and AIDS. Don’t miss Alicia Keys in 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief on Sundance Channel Wednesday at 7:30P.
4. JON BON JOVI
4. JON BON JOVI - Through his charity Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, this ultimate Jersey boy is fighting poverty and working to keep families afloat. Starting close to home—in the greater Philadelphia area—his charity has been tackling issues of hunger and need with its radical Soul Kitchen restaurant, in Red Bank, NJ, where customers can choose between paying a suggested donation or volunteering at the restaurant or other local nonprofits to pay for their meal. JBJSF has also recently funded a dozen new homes for families in need through Hearts of Camden. Don’t miss Bon Jovi in 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief on Sundance Channel Wednesday at 7:30P.
3. TAYLOR SWIFT
3. TAYLOR SWIFT - Though only 22, Taylor Swift has already been recognized repeatedly for her philanthropic work—she’s the youngest-ever recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Center’s Ripple of Hope Award. The super-successful singer has donated astronomical sums to arts-education programs, children’s literacy, natural disaster relief and more. She has also made numerous Make-A-Wish dreams come true by meeting with young fans.
2. PAUL MCCARTNEY
2. PAUL MCCARTNEY - For decades now, Sir Paul has been an advocate for the animal-rights organization PETA, donating not just money but something far more valuable: his renowned and beloved voice to campaigns and videos, focusing particularly on eating meat-free (he’s also a supporter of the Vegetarian Society). In addition, he has supported OneVoice (dedicated to establishing a peaceful two-state option for Israel and Palestine) and Nordoff Robins (music therapy), among others. Don’t miss Paul McCartney in 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief on Sundance Channel Wednesday at 7:30P.
1. ELTON JOHN
1. ELTON JOHN - Few celebrities have been as active and as identified with a cause as Sir Elton John has with AIDS awareness and research. Twenty years ago, he founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation, dedicated to prevention, treatment, education and research on HIV and AIDS. The Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Party, held annually since 1993, is both one of the most fashionable events of the year and one of the most profitable, with Hollywood coming out in force to buy high-price tickets and bid on auction items. The charity has raised more than $275 million worldwide to date.