NEW YORK – Pop star Ariana Grande promised Friday to return to Manchester to play a charity concert following a suicide attack at her show, as she urged fans to respond to the tragedy with love.
In her first substantive comments since Monday’s tragedy, the singer said she felt “uplift” by seeing fans’ compassion after the blast which killed 22 people and was claimed by the Islamic State group.
The 23-year-old, who suspended her tour and returned to her Florida home to rest, said she planned a concert as “an expression of love for Manchester”.
She said that the concert would raise money for the victims of the attack and their families. The date has not yet been set.
“Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before,” she said in an essay posted on her social media accounts.
“We won’t let this divide us. We won’t let hate win,” she said.
Grande, whose fan base is dominated by girls and young women, said she had seen a “beautiful, diverse, pure, happy crowd”.
She said that she viewed her concerts as places for her fans “to escape, to celebrate, to heal, to feel safe and to be themselves”.
“This will not change,” she said.
‘Everyone on Earth can share’ music
Grande wrote that her concert, by bringing people from varied backgrounds into the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena, showed the power of music to unite.
“Music is something that everyone on Earth can share,” she wrote.
“Music is meant to heal us, to bring us together, to make us happy,” she said.
In the wake of the attack, Grande had faced criticism from some commentators in Britain, notably Piers Morgan, who said she should have stayed and visited hospitalised survivors rather than return home.
Grande in her statement said she has been focused “non-stop” on the victims and that “I will think of them with everything I do for the rest of my life”.
Grande canceled two weeks of concerts, including two shows in London, after the attacks. She flew home on Tuesday after releasing a brief message saying she felt “broken”.
She plans to resume her “Dangerous Woman” tour in Paris on June 7.
Despite the name of her tour and accompanying album, the former television child star turned bubblegum pop singer has rarely triggered controversy.
She has only occasionally shared personal views, including criticising double-standards for women in entertainment, voicing support for gay rights and advocating a vegan diet to prevent animal cruelty.
Grande is not the only artist who plans a charity gig. Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, a Manchester native, said he will perform his first-ever solo show on Tuesday to support a Red Cross-backed appeal. — AFP