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Dave Chappelle Hosted Free Star-Studded Concert for Shooting Survivors

Dave Chappelle at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018. (Photo: John Bauld)
Dave Chappelle at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018. (Photo: John Bauld)

A lineup of stars including Stevie Wonder, Talib Kweli, Chris Rock and more were surprise guests at Dave Chappelle’s Ohio benefit concert over the weekend.

On Sunday, comedian Dave Chappelle hosted a free benefit concert in Dayton, Ohio to honor the victims and benefit families and survivors of the recent mass shooting.

Taking place three weeks after nine people were killed in the downtown Oregon District, the free concert was called Gem City Shine, referencing the city’s nickname.

The 46-year-old comedy icon has close ties to the city, growing up in Yellow Springs, Ohio which is 20 miles outside of Dayton and part of its greater metropolitan that has a total population of around 800,000. He was on a comedy tour when the mass shooting took place. Feeling compelled to respond with support, he reached out to the city’s Mayor, Nan Whaley—ultimately deciding on Sunday’s concert.

Onstage, Chappelle began the concert by stating: “Today we’re going to show the world that nothing will get us down.” Throughout the show, Chappelle also led the crowd in chants of “O-H-I-O.”

Sunday happened to be the day after his birthday as well. Mayor Whaley gave Chappelle a birthday card and told him the city had declared Sunday “Dave Chappelle Day” in Dayton.

Rumors of big names that may perform that day had included Kanye West, Lady Gaga, and John Legend. Although those stars didn’t show up, the lineup was impressive and drew an estimated crowd of 20,000. Artist Thundercat was the first to take the stage. Stevie Wonder, Chance the Rapper and Talib Kweli followed. Comedians Jon Stewart and Chris Rock also made appearances.

Earlier in the day, rapper Kanye West also led a Sunday Service of remembrance and gospel rejoicing, at RiverScape Metro Park in Dayton.

This is not the first time Chappelle has displayed generosity towards his hometown; in the past, he brought Yellow Springs residents to a comedy event he hosted in Brooklyn in 2004, using his own funds.

He famously returned to live in Yellow Springs in 2006 after achieving massive success in the entertainment world, saying: “Turns out you don’t need $50 million to live around these parts, just a nice smile and a kind way about you. You guys are the best neighbors ever. That’s why I came back and that’s why I’m staying.”

To benefit victims of the shooting, Sunday’s concert attendees were encouraged to shop at the local businesses located down Fifth Street and to purchase shirts, or simply make donations.

Supporters can text “DAYTON” to 20222 on their mobile phone to donate $10 to the Oregon District Tragedy Fund. All donations go to benefit shooting victims’ families and survivors.

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