Comedian Dave Chappelle’s “Gem City Shine” brought together notable artists to honor the city of Dayton following the Oregon District mass shooting
It was not a quiet weekend in Dayton, by any means.
Comedian and Yellow Springs native Dave Chappelle hosted the star-studded “Gem City Shine” benefit concert on Aug. 25 (just one day after his 46th birthday) to honor the victims of the mass shooting that occurred in Dayton on Aug. 4. The event took place in the Oregon District, where the 32-second shooting that left nine dead and dozens more injured occurred.
Chappelle announced plans for the concert weeks ago, but minimal details were shared. The event’s Facebook page served as the primary avenue for information.
Admission for “Gem City Shine” was free, however, tickets were limited to residents of Dayton and the surrounding area. In order to obtain entry, interested locals had to go through Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program. Entrance was limited to the first 20,000 qualifying individuals.
While it was known that Chappelle would host “Gem City Shine,” no other performers were announced prior to the event. Buzz about who Chappelle booked peaked on Aug. 23 when rapper Kanye West was spotted eating dinner with his wife, Kim Kardashian, and their children at the Cheesecake Factory in The Greene Town Center.
West and family were spotted throughout the Dayton area on Aug. 24.
On the morning of “Gem City Shine,” West’s weekly gospel and worship Sunday Service series performed at the RiverScape MetroPark. Among the members of the choir were University of Dayton students.
One UD student who performed alongside West was senior vocal performance major MC Donovan.
“I worked with the most talented musicians I’ve ever met,” Donovan said. “Being a part of such a full and joyful sound was indescribable.”
Kanye West performs his 2004 hit, "Jesus Walks" during #SundayService at the RiverScape MetroPark in Dayton, Ohio in support of the victims and survivors of the Dayton mass shooting.
— Culttture (@culttture) August 26, 2019
While West was performing at RiverScape, singer Stevie Wonder was spotted on the “Gem City Shine” stage running sound checks.
Chappelle’s event did not begin until 4 p.m., but lines began gathering in the Oregon District hours beforehand.
Prior to the concert, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley commented on Chappelle’s efforts to help the city, saying it was a great way for the community to come together. She emphasized the importance for the country to take action and that Dayton can lead the change.
“Dayton has changed the world once, it can do it again,” Whaley said.
During the event, Whaley met with Chappelle on stage and presented him with a birthday card. Inside of it was a proclamation declaring Aug. 25, 2019 “Dave Chappelle Day” in the city of Dayton.
Throughout the six hours that “Gem City Shine” took place, concertgoers were treated to musical performances by Thundercat, Teyana Taylor, Talib Kweli, Chance the Rapper and Stevie Wonder. Also, comedian Jon Stewart spoke and “Saturday Night Live” actor Michael Che was seen among the crowd.
Senior communication major Justin Balogh was one of the 20,000 in the crowd that witnessed the performances.
“I expected something like a music festival, but I was blown away by the size of the crowd,” Balogh said. “The energy was unbelievable – something Dayton definitely needed.”
While the concert certainly managed to bring the community together for a day, it also served as an opportunity for money to be raised for the families of those who died and those who were wounded in the Aug. 4 shooting.
Cover photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kyle, former Flyer News news editor. Internal photos taken by Griffin Quinn. Sean Newhouse contributed to this report.