On Sunday, a pint-sized 23 year-old from Florida with a bouncy ponytail and a booming voice united a city. Ariana Grande toplined a star-studded concert and fundraiser in Manchester, held in the wake of the terror attack at her own concert last month.
The day was packed with bravura performances from the likes of Justin Bieber, Pharrell Williams, Niall Horan and Miley Cyrus. But Grande was the show’s emotional core. She delivered a stirring rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to close out the night.
All told, Grande’s One Love Manchester benefit concert raised a whopping $12 million for the We Love Manchester emergency fund. But years from now, the concert will be remembered for so much more than the money it raised.
It was a bold and defiant statement by the stars that performed, the 50,000 fans in attendance, and the millions of people that watched around the globe. By attacking a pop concert, the terrorists hoped to stoke fear and paranoia in young people specifically, where the embers of celebration and self-expression burn brightest.
But rather than cower in fear, the city’s youth rallied together in what was a stunning display of resolve and unity. The twittersphere couldn’t help but take notice, especially during Grande’s tearful rendition of “My Everthing,“ for which she was accompanied by the choir from Parrs Wood High School in Manchester.
Even Piers Morgan—who had criticized Grande for fleeing the U.K. after the original attack—felt compelled to apologize to the singer.
Another emotional high point came from Katy Perry, who wore an outfit fashioned with photos of victims of the attack, and delivered an aspirational speech about choosing love over hate.
“It’s not easy to always choose love, is it?” she asked. “Especially in moments like these, right? It can be the most difficult thing to do. But love conquers fear, and love conquers hate. And this love that you choose will give you strength. It’s our greatest power.”
The occasion was also good enough reason for Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Oasis’ frontman Noel Gallagher to bury the hatchet for a rousing rendition of Oasis’ “Live Forever”. Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for Noel and his brother Liam.
But the prize for best duet of the night definitely went to Grande and Miley Cyrus, whose duet of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over” is definitely worth watching more than once.
If you’d like to donate to the the We Love Manchester emergency fund click here.