The whole world was devastated by the attack at Ariana Grande's concert in Manchester, UK, last week, which killed 22 parents and children and injured another 159. But rather than choosing fear and hate, the city of Manchester—and people from around the world—united to pay tribute to those lost and to celebrate life and love.
A few days after the attack, Ariana Grande announced a benefit concert to help those affected by the tragedy, and quickly built an all-star lineup of pop stars like Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Justin Bieber—and one very special set of performers. The local high school choir, Parrs Wood Harmony Group, performed along with Grande—many of the members of the choir had been at the concert the night of the attack, and performing there required a bit of courage for some of them.
"As you can imagine, there’s going to be a mix of emotions," says musical director Daniel McDwyer, in an interview with People. "Some of the people actually in the choir were at the concert. They’ve struggled, and that was one of the massive reasons why we really wanted to do something as well—to actually support the people we knew personally affected by it."
Originally, Grande had a more somber set list in mind, but that was before she spent time visiting with her fans who were still recovering from the attack, and with Charlotte Campbell, mother of Grande superfan Olivia Campbell, who died in the attack.
Charlotte shared what she told Grande in their meeting: "We said...you play the hits, you sing your heart out," she says. "You make everyone get up and dance and smile and sing along with you. Olivia wouldn't want anyone in tears, she was a smiley girl."
That seemed to be the mood of the event: Even in the face of tragedy, people celebrated the joy of life—including the cops who guarded the event. They went viral in a video showing them dancing with the kids in the crowd.
And that's what we should take away from it, as well: Choose joy, choose life, choose love, choose unity. And don't let fear divide us.