Large crowds came together in Dayton on Sunday for a star-studded benefit concert hosted by comedian Dave Chappelle, just weeks after the Ohio city experienced a mass shooting that left nine people dead.
The performance lineup for Gem City Shine was not publicly announced before the event, but it featured local performers as well as big names like Chance the Rapper, Jon Stewart, Talib Kweli, Teyana Taylor and ThunderCat. A photo of the setlist also showed comedian Chris Rock, and Stevie Wonder was spotted doing a soundcheck before the concert.
Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West were also in town because the rapper held his weekly worship series Sunday Service earlier that day at Dayton’s RiverScape MetroPark. Local media reported that Chappelle and “Saturday Night Live’s” Michael Che were in attendance.
— Darius J. Beckham (@dariusjbeckham) August 25, 2019
Teyana Taylor just showed a very moving montage of the tragic news out of the #oregondistrict. She was brought to tears. Very moving in the crowd. #gemcityshine #daytonstrong pic.twitter.com/6fhvnbC3lH
— Greg Bobos (@Greg247Now) August 25, 2019
Mayor Nan Whaley and the event’s organizers said Gem City Shine was meant to bring the Dayton community together in an uplifting environment while raising money for victims’ families and survivors of the Aug. 4 shooting. The concert took place in the popular Oregon District ― where the 24-year-old gunman opened fire before being killed by police ― in order to reclaim the city and get people comfortable with coming to the entertainment district again.
“When Dave Chappelle talked about this, it was about the community coming together, and that’s a really important part of this Gem City Shine effort,” Whaley told reporters before the concert, according to WDTN-TV.
@nanwhaley holding a press conference discussing Gem City Shine which is just about to begin shortly. She said, “This is about building community.” @dayton247now #DaytonStrong pic.twitter.com/3dgOm2w43B
— Bryn Caswell (@Bryn247NOW) August 25, 2019
Chappelle grew up and still lives in Yellow Springs, a village about 20 miles from Dayton. The comedian encouraged attendees to try to avoid using their cell phones to record the concert so they could be present in the moment, according to event organizers.
“The best way we can honor our fallen is by getting up better than we were before,” Chappelle told the crowd at the start of the concert, WHIO-TV reported. “We won’t let those people die in vain.”
Dave Chappelle just came out to the stage. He says nothing will break our spirit and don’t forget what this city is all about. He’s also leading an OH-IO chant @WDTN #GemCityShine pic.twitter.com/sE6WVNBCLq
— Julia Palazzo (@JuliaPalazzoTV) August 25, 2019
Whaley spoke to the crowd after Chappelle, declaring Aug. 25 “Dave Chappelle Day,” and talked about how she’s seen the Dayton community come together in the shooting’s aftermath to “grieve, to love and to demand action,” according to the Dayton Daily News.
— Nan Whaley (@nanwhaley) August 25, 2019
“Dayton, the world is watching and they heard your call to do something,” she said. “We must do something to end gun violence. Dayton, we changed the world once, we can change the world again.”
The concert was free, though organizers said attendees could donate to the Dayton Foundation’s Oregon District Tragedy Fund and the district’s business association.