Stevie Wonder kicked off Tuesday night’s star-studded hurricane relief telethon with a shot at people who believe there is “no such thing” as global warming.
The R&B legend sat down to the piano for the nationally-televised and live-streamed event and opened with a message of unity, explaining that people had come together to support those who had been devastated by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
“When love goes with action, it preferences no color of skin, no ethnicity, no religious beliefs, no sexual preferences, and no political persuasions. It just loves,” Wonder began. “As we should begin to love and value our planet.”
“And anyone who believes there’s no such thing as global warming must be blind, or unintelligent,” he added. “Lord, please save us all.”
Wonder then launched into a performance of “Lean On Me.”
But the musician quickly came under fire on social media for bringing politics into the relief event almost immediately after it had begun.
“Dear Stevie Wonder, thanks for politicizing right at the beginning of the concert. Saved me an hour,” one Twitter user wrote.
“I’m not going to underwrite Stevie Wonder lecturing me on climate. I’ll give to my church, and let them sort it out,” wrote another.
Wonder wasn’t the only star to talk about climate change at the event; during her segment, Beyoncé said the effects of climate change “are playing out around the world every day.”
“Just this past week we have seen devastation from the monsoon in India, an 8.1 earthquake in Mexico, and multiple catastrophic hurricanes,” the pop superstar said. “Irma alone has left a trail of death and destruction from the Caribbean to Florida to the southern United States. We have to be prepared for what comes next. So tonight, we come together in a collective effort to raise our voices, to help our communities, to lift our spirits and heal.”
The celebrity-stacked relief telethon — put together by Scooter Braun and Bun B — reportedly raised $14 million in an hour, according to TMZ.
Other celebrity participants included George Clooney, Robert De Niro, Justin Bieber, Drake, Cher, Julia Roberts, Jay Leno, Stephen Colbert, Chris Paul, Al Pacino, Usher, Michael Strahan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, Jimmy Fallon, Barbra Streisand, Reese Witherspoon, Dave Matthews, Jamie Foxx, Blake Shelton, Billy Crystal, Matthew McConaughey, and Oprah Winfrey, among dozens of others.
Watch the complete telethon here.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum