Dave Matthews opened his Concert for Charlottesville with a powerful reminder of why the show was taking place. After walking onstage at the University of Virginia’s Scott Stadium playing “Mercy” on his acoustic guitar, he brought out Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old local woman killed while protesting white nationalists rallying in downtown Charlottesville, Va.
“I’m here in her place to sing with all of you in her place,” Bro said, thanking the crowd for opening their hearts to be part of Heather’s legacy and asking them to “turn our righteous anger into action and understanding.”
“By raising our voices against hatred, you make Heather’s death count … and her brief life mean even more,” she shared, encouraging the crowd: “Sing your hearts out!”
In addition to Matthews’ band at the benefit concert for “music and unity,” Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande, The Roots, Cage the Elephant, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes and Chris Stapleton are billed to perform. Concertgoers were also hoping Chris Martin of Coldplay and Stevie Wonder would make surprise appearances.
Tickets were free, but attendees were encouraged to donate to a charity fund that will benefit victims of the Aug. 12 violence.
Heyer, 32, was killed Aug. 12 after James Alex Fields Jr., 20, rammed his car into pedestrians during a white nationalist rally in downtown Charlottesville. She was with friends protesting against the white supremacists. At least 33 other people were injured, either as a result of Fields’ actions or violent clashes by protesters.