Katy Perry performed a surprise set on Feb. 25 at a benefit for first responders and survivors of January’s deadly mudslide in Montecito, California.
A crowd of more than 2,000 gathered for the “One 805 Kick Ash Bash” fundraiser, named after the area code where disaster hit. It raised nearly $2 million, according to organizers.
“This means the world to me,” Perry told CNN. “This is where I flourish. My heart was broken by the tragedy, the mudslide. I’ll do anything to help this community.”
Perry grew up in nearby Goleta.
In an emotional moment backstage, Perry hugged 14-year-old Lauren Cantin, who was among those rescued from mud and debris.
Cantin lost her father in the lethal flow. Her 16-year-old brother, Jack, is still missing, but her mother survived.
Perry told the teenager, “You can sing.”
Before the pop star took the stage, Cantin touched the crowd with a performance of “God Bless America.”
Montecito resident Ellen DeGeneres also appeared at the event, telling the audience she has continued to share information about the area’s tragedy on her talk show.
“The news has moved on, but we have not moved on,” DeGeneres said.
She said that the impact of the mudslide is similar to the aftermath of hurricanes she saw in her hometown of New Orleans.
“And it’s not just rich people and billionaires, it’s everybody,” DeGeneres said.
Comedian Dennis Miller emceed the concert.
Katharine McPhee, Wilson Phillips, Alan Parsons, Dishwalla, Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket, Kenny Loggins and Richard Marx were among other performers with ties to the community who entertained the crowd.
“This is just amazing,” Montecito fire Chief Chip Hickman told CNN.
“The incredible outpouring of support for our first responders, we’re just thankful for everyone here.”
Written by Paul Vercammen for CNN.
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