National Concert Series Hopes to Combat Gun Violence by 'Sharing a Message of Love and Kindness'
Americans in more than 180 cities are hosting grassroots concerts and are taking part in a giant, global sing-along to raise awareness about gun violence prevention
Americans across the country are taking a stand against gun violence with an organized series of concerts and one giant, global sing-along.
From Thursday through Sunday, hundreds of musicians, artists, activists and concerned citizens are taking part in the second-annual Concert Across America to End Gun Violence to raise awareness about the deadly American epidemic.
“It’s important to recognize the devastating impact gun violence has on our communities,” Donna Dees, the movement’s national co-chair, tells PEOPLE. “Music helps put it into context.”
For four days, live grassroots concerts and other events will be held in more than 180 cities all over the country.
But that’s not all. This year, organizers, led by the non-profit Stop Handgun Violence, are asking people from every corner of the planet to record a video of themselves singing the anti-gun violence song “Nothing More,” by the Connecticut-based rock band The Alternate Routes, and posting it on social media under the hashtag #ConcertAcrossAmerica.
Organizers are calling the sing-along the World Record Challenge. The song has been featured on the hit CBS series, NCIS and at the 2014 Winter Olympics. The song’s message can be summed up with one of its lyrics: “We are how we treat each other and nothing more.”
“Join our global sing-along to set a world record,” Concert Across America says on its website. “Wherever you are, sing with us!”
Sample videos have been provided by activists and artists across the country including by Vy Higginsen’s Sing Harlem Choir, according to the organization.
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The song was written by one of the band’s founders, Eric Donnelly, who lost his parents, Tim and Kim Donnelly, in 2005, when a heroin addict shot and killed them while robbing their jewelry store in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Years after losing his parents, Donnelly penned the song for Newtown Kindness, which was founded in honor of 6-year-old Charlotte Bacon, one of the 26 students and educators who died in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.
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“We’ll have at least 200 performances of Nothing More across the country,” says Dees, who organized the Million Mom March in support of gun control in 2000. “The lyrics are simple yet powerful.”
John Rosenthal, national co-chair of the effort, said in a statement, “Gun violence is an issue that affects all communities, and everyone should have an opportunity to work towards a solution. By sharing a message of love and kindness to end gun violence, we can remember and honor lost loved ones.”
A full list of participating cities, karaoke tracks for the world record song, and more can be found online at concertacrossamerica.org.
The first “Concert Across America to End Gun Violence” in September 2016 featured 350 events across the country, with more than 5,200 artists performing for a day of music. according to concertacrossamerica.org.