Khalid and Friends- A Night For SunCity, charity benefit concerts at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso Texas on September 1, 2019, Andres Acosta/ El Paso Herald-Post
A man traveled into El Paso with the sole intention to reconstruct a cultural injustice.
This man did so with love, with an intention causing a far greater impact than its rivaling forces of racism and violence.
Almost one month following a mass shooting tragedy that would rob 22 humans of their life, 24 of their health, and tens of thousands more of their sense of safety, a sold-out benefit concert injected a boost of healing for a mourning city.
Welcome back home, Khalid Robinson.
A non-native of El Paso, yet an outspoken fruition of the city’s thriving soil of kindness and kinship, Khalid returned home in response to the August 3rd shooting at an east El Paso Walmart motivated by hate against Mexicans and Hispanics.
A benefit show in honor of the Sun City and its victims on September 1 at the Don Haskins Center raised half a million dollars. More importantly, the event lifted over 11,000 souls attending the show and reinforced El Paso pride.
Actor Matthew McConaughey jumped the stage as doors opened, welcomed by a surprised but receptive crowd. He expressed support for El Paso victims and the community before introducing an energetic dance set by local group The Swell Kids.
Soon after, a heartfelt warm up introduction by former Congressman Beto O’Rourke immediately referenced the hours-old mass shooting in West Texas’ Odessa and Midland.
“They’re suffering right now,” he said. “They lost family members, wondering what the future holds for them, people in hospitals right
now, they need to know that our thoughts, our love, our prayers are with them.”
With only weeks of healing thinly blanketing a bullet-torn El Paso, the audience responded with a mix of applause, agreement and tears.
“What we are seeing here tonight, says everything that you need to know about El Paso,” he continued. “Thousands of us coming together, for one another, for El Paso. For Ciudad Juarez Chihuahua, Mexico. For the families who still have somebody pulling through tonight.”
Referencing a front-line doctor from the August 3 incident, Beto described his take of the shooting’s aftermath as one of those moments that will ‘destroy your faith in humanity or restore your faith in humanity.’
“I gotta tell you El Paso, you have restored my faith in humanity,” he elaborated to a roaring audience, transitioning into a booming welcome for Khalid.
The international star entered the stage with a smile that rarely escaped his expression, fortifying a performance that radiated positivity in the wake of the show’s origin. Donning an “El Paso Love” sweatshirt while performing hits for unified sing-alongs in a brimming arena, Khalid’s grin was infectious, genuine and one of the many rays of sunshine emanating from the Sun City Sunday evening.
Sprinkled in the set list were surprise appearances from Lil Yachty, SZA and Rae Sremmurd, with impressive El Paso-devoted performances to an already explosive show by Khalid.
“You’re beautiful, El Paso,” SZA said as she blew a kiss to the audience.
Khalid wrapped the $500,000 gift to the El Paso and its victims with an encouraging monologue for a city that believed in him from the start of his music career in 2015.
“I’m sending you guys my love, and it breaks my heart that something so unexpected would happen in a city where I’ve felt so safe,” he began warmly. “I want to let you guys know, it’s really crazy I do shows, in South Korea they’re screaming ‘City of the 915. I do shows in Australia, they’re sayng City of El Paso, the world loves you, El Paso. I want to let you guys know this is definitely not the end, this is only the beginning and I see so much for this city. El Paso strong, I love you guys so much.”
We love you too, Khalid. Thank you.