Lady Gaga is uniting famous faces to put on the One World: Together at Home special amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly two weeks after she announced the star-studded benefit special, the singer, 34, led the two-hour broadcast, which was hosted by late-night stars Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.

Gaga kicked off the benefit concert with an uplifting cover of Nat King Cole’s classic “Smile” from her home. “What I’d like to do tonight is give you permission, at least for a moment, to smile,” she said.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve witnessed unbelievable acts of bravery, courage and kindness all around the world in response to this global pandemic. Everyone from the doctors and nurses on the frontlines to the volunteer mental health specialists, grocery store workers, delivery workers, mail workers have all shown unprecedented levels of kindness throughout the fight against COVID-19,” she said at the top of the event.

“We want to get to the other side of this pandemic and I know you do too. But tonight is not a fundraiser so put your wallets away,” Gaga added. “It’s our love letter to the world.”

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View this post on Instagram THE SHOW STARTS NOW!!! Btw look at that kiss😭🥺 – #ladygaga #littlemonster #ritabot #anywhere #thefame #thefamemonster #bornthisway #artpop #joanne #love #peace #liveshow #live #girlsgirlsgirls #roararepublic #enigma #stupidlove

A post shared by Little Monster & Ritabot (@gaga_rita) on Apr 18, 2020 at 5:01pm PDT


Hours before the start of the benefit, the Oscar winner tearfully thanked fans on Instagram Live. “I love you all so much, I love the world so much. What Global Citizen has done with the World Health Organization is so beautiful,” she said.

“I’m so grateful to the healthcare workers and the medical workers, the grocery store workers and delivery people, postal workers, all the other non-profits that are working so hard. I just want you to know that this is really a true love letter all of you all over the world. I hope it’s a reminder of the kindness that’s occurring right now, you’re all so special. The world is a special place,” she continued.

The star later added, “Since I was a little girl I always wanted to make people happy and I didn’t know why, but I think I know today. I love you very much.”

Gaga previously revealed that she and Global Citizen have already raised $35 million for the World Health Organization.

The A-list special will raise money through the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to support local and regional charities providing food, shelter and healthcare to those in need amid the ongoing health crisis.

During the special, there will be appearances and performances by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, J Balvin, Andrea Bocelli, Burna Boy, Billie Eilish and FINNEAS, Elton John, John Legend, Chris Martin and Alanis Morissette.

Pianist Lang Lang, Lizzo, Maluma, Paul McCartney, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Eddie Vedder and Stevie Wonder will also be featured, along with David Beckham, Idris and Sabrina Elba, Kerry Washington, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Shah Rukh Khan.

In addition, Alicia Keys, Amy Poehler, Awkwafina, Camila Cabello, Celine Dion, Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Lopez, LL COOL J, Lupita Nyong’o, Matthew McConaughey, Oprah Winfrey, Pharrell Williams, Sam Smith, Shawn Mendes, Taylor Swift, Usher and Victoria Beckham are set to make cameos.

Along with celebrity cameos, frontline doctors, nurses and families from around the world will be headlined.

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Gaga, who has been social distancing with her boyfriend Michael Polansky, recently spoke with Fallon about planning the special, telling him: “We’re going to have amazing hosts and and the truth is that we’re also going to do a lot of other things that are going to be different and exciting, and this is what I really want to do with the show.”

While Gaga has been keeping busy and organizing the special, her little monsters will have to wait a little longer to hear her new album, Chromatica.

In March, she told fans that she would be delaying the release of her upcoming sixth LP due to the global health crisis. “I wanted to tell you, that after a lot of deliberation, I’ve made the incredibly tough decision to postpone the release of Chromatica,” Gaga said, adding that the record, previously planned to drop on April 10, would be coming out later this year. “I will announce a new 2020 release date soon.”

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Gaga continued, “This is such a hectic and scary time for all of us, and while I believe art is one of the strongest things we have to provide joy and healing to each other during times like this, it just doesn’t feel right to me to release this album with all that is going on during this global pandemic. Instead I prefer that we spend this time focusing on finding solutions. It’s important to me that the attention is on getting essential medical equipment to healthcare professionals, making sure kids who depend on public schools for meals get the assistance they need, and that we help those who will be financially impacted by this pandemic.”

Chromatica will be Gaga’s first new album since 2016’s Joanne, which became her fourth consecutive record to reach number one in the United States. For her 2018 film A Star Is Born, Gaga also wrote and recorded a few tracks, including the Oscar-winning song, “Shallow.”

In February, the Grammy winner released “Stupid Love,” the first single off of Chromatica (though the song had leaked back in January).

The One World: Together at Home special will air on April 18 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET/12 a.m. GMT.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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