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Long Island Music Hall of Famers to star in TV special honoring front-line workers

Long Island Music Hall of Famer Joan Jett

Long Island Music Hall of Famer Joan Jett performs at the CMA Music Festival on June 7, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. Credit: Getty Images / Jason Kempin

Concerts may not be happening in Nassau or Suffolk, but the Long Island Music Hall of Fame is about to bring some big-name local artists to your living room.

The TV music program, “Supporting Health Care Heroes,” featuring performances from more than a dozen LIMHOF inductees, will air on Optimum's News 12 Plus (Ch. 61) and FiOS (Ch. 530) on Sunday, May 31, at 8 p.m. News 12 features reporter Elisa DiStefano will host the 90-minute special honoring Long Island’s COVID-19 front-line workers.

“We reached out to our inductees and received a terrific response,” says LIMHOF chairman Ernie Canadeo. “The artists were excited and appreciative for the opportunity. They really went all out.”

Those who submitted taped performances include Joan Jett, Pat Benatar (with Neil Giraldo), Debbie Gibson, Blue Öyster Cult, Taking Back Sunday, Kurtis Blow, Barnaby Bye, Gary U.S. Bonds, Elliott Murphy and Kenny Vance, plus members of the Stray Cats, Dream Theater, Vanilla Fudge and The Tokens.

“Many are exclusive performances,” says Canadeo. “In fact, Kurtis Blow made a brand-new song just for this special, which is amazing.”

One of the artists who delivers a moving performance is saxophonist Richie Cannata, formerly of the Billy Joel Band, who plays an instrumental version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

“That song really resonates,” says Cannata, who lives in Glen Cove and owns Cove City Sound Studios in the same town. “Long Island has serious talent. We have the best of everything. I’m proud to be here.”

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Donations will be accepted on its website for the United Way’s United Together for Health Care Heroes fund used for delivering food to health care workers on site.

“We’re pleased to be the beneficiary of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame concert proceeds,” said Theresa Regnante, president and CEO of United Way of Long Island in a released statement. “Our region is struggling right now, and it is United Way of Long Island’s responsibility to help bring equity to vulnerable populations. Health care responders have been on the frontlines of battling COVID-19 all while putting their own lives, and those of their families, at risk. Together, with the support of the public, we can continue to nourish and give thanks to our health care heroes.”

Looking toward the future, the organization is expanding its mission by renaming itself The Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame, says Canadeo. Future inductees will include comedians, movie stars and TV actors. However, this year’s induction ceremony, which was originally set for Nov. 5 at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Brookville, will be postponed until the fall of 2021. Regarding a permanent home for the museum, the board is currently in negotiations with an undisclosed site and will make an announcement in the near future.

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