The global comedic phenomenon, who has amassed almost seven million Instagram followers with her hilarious impersonations of posturing models and celebrities, became the accidental face and emotional cheerleader for the relief effort, as the fires threatened the lives and homes of her family.
Her “hot husband” Api Robin’s family were evacuated from Eden with Barber’s mother-in-law Joy unleashing on the Federal Government’s failure to act quickly in the horrific crisis – delivering her impassioned message as she stood on a wharf of the NSW south coast town surrounded by encroaching fires, choking smoke and an apocalyptic orange sky.
Barber kept Australia and the world engaged with her passionate pleas and shout outs of gratitude as the fundraising tally clicked over rapidly, propelled by donations of $1000 a second from her fans.
So when TEG Dainty and TEG Live announced the all-star line-up for the Fire Fight Australia relief concert, the comedian and writer wondered if they might need a host.
Offering her services, it was an immediate “yes please”.
“Having Celeste hosting the concert is just so right,” TEG Live boss Geoff Jones tells News Corp Australia.
Barber’s unique and hilarious everywoman vibe will also help drive even more fundraising for the victims of the black summer bushfires which continues to threaten lives, properties and wildlife.
With more than 70,000 tickets to the concert – headlined by Queen and Adam Lambert – sold within hours of going on sale, Foxtel and Seven stepped up to co-fund a broadcast, which will act as a de facto telethon for the relief effort.
And quell the disappointment of those who missed out on tickets.
Viewers will be encouraged to donate via www.firefightaustralia.com with donations to be directed to the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal’s Fire Fight Fund who have extensive experience supporting local communities in rural, regional and remote areas in their recovery from disasters.
“I’m so pumped, honoured and completely overwhelmed to be hosting the Fire
Fight Australia concert,” Barber says.
“It’s going to be such an amazing event that’s being broadcast across Australia (hi, Mum!) and I am so excited to be a part of it.
“We really want to help lift spirits, band together and raise some much-needed funds for the bush fire relief.”
Taking to the stage (loaned by Queen) will be international stars k.d. lang, Alice Cooper and Michael Buble; while the Australian line-up features a who’s who of the music industry, including 5 Seconds of Summer, Amy Shark, Baker Boy, Conrad Sewell, Daryl Braithwaite, Delta Goodrem, Grinspoon, Guy Sebastian, Hilltop Hoods, ICEHOUSE, Illy, Jessica Mauboy, John Farnham, Lee Kernaghan, Olivia Newton-John, Peking Duk, Pete Murray, Tina Arena and William Barton.
So many of the artists, technical staff and organisers who rallied to put on the concert and broadcasts know somebody directly affected by the disaster.
Peking Duk, which formed in Canberra, have many friends and family who have lost houses or continue to worry about the long-term effects of the poor air quality, generated by the smoke from the fires.
“The before and after photos are so chilling,” the Duk’s Reuben Styles says.
“For a lot of people in Canberra, the south coast is where they do their actual living. They spend their weeks in the city for school and work and then head straight to the coast.
“At least 20 friends and family have been directly affected by the fires, have lost their homes.”
The Foxtel broadcast of Fire Fight will be telecast live on Fox8, Channel V and a 4K Ultra HD channel, without ads, and streamed on Foxtel GO and Now.
Hosts for their telecast include Peter Stefanovic, Laura Jayes, Rove McManus, Matt Shirvington, Deborah Hutton, Jason Dundas, Hannah Hollis, Shaynna Blaze and Eddie McGuire.
Jayes’ husband, Seven reporter Alex Hart and his family have had a farm on Kangaroo Island for 100 years and he spent the days ahead of that catastrophic fire preparing the homestead.
“For some inexplicable reason, the fire has burnt right up to the house, the track around the house, went over the top of it and kept going. The family property was fine but their neighbours were not,” she reveals
“This is about community, the hundreds and hundreds of people affected. The volunteer fire fighters there are mostly farmers and they have had to deal with drought for five years or longer and everyone there has just been so willing to help.
“Working in news today, you know there are so many things dividing us, but this has really brought Australia together and we can’t forget people are still facing this as an ongoing crisis.
“Once the smoke clears from the cities, people can tend to forget about it, so having this concert now is a good time to keep the focus on those still fighting and those who are trying to recover and rebuild their lives.”
Seven has assembled their Sunrise and teams to helm their broadcast which will also be broadcast live on Channel 7 and streamed via 7 Plus.
* Fire Fight Australia, 1pm Sunday February 16, Foxtel’s Fox8, Channel V and
streaming Foxtel Now and Go; and on Channel 7 and streaming on 7 Plus.
DONATE NOW AT: www.firefightaustralia.com