Unity concert marked 20-year anniversary of teen's racially motivated murder
Also on the bill were Jessie J, Labrinth, Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora, Mercury Prize nominees Rudimental, Ellie Goulding, Beverly Knight, Jamie Cullum and former X Factor contestant Jahmene Douglas, who performed with the London Community Gospel Choir.
Plan B opened the show with his track ‘Ill Manors’, also performing ‘She Said’ and ‘Stay Too Long’, and was followed by Rizzle Kicks, who performed ‘Lost Generation’ and, as with most other artists, a cover version. They chose The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’.
Most artists refrained from making statements beyond being proud and honoured to participate while on stage, although Tinie Tempah did add his own tribute to the murdered teen. “This night is about the amazing work done by the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust so let’s have a big cheer for them,” he said after performing ‘Pass Out’. “On a personal level, it feels like we’re celebrating a bit of justice as well. Stephen Lawrence, may your soul rest in perfect peace.” The rapper then performed ‘Written In The Stars’, and later returned to the stage to duet with Rita Ora on ‘RIP’. Ora also covered Prince song ‘Diamonds And Pearls’.
Oscar winner and mastermind of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony Danny Boyle appeared on stage to introduce Stephen’s mother Doreen Lawrence, who was recently made a peer for her work campaigning in her son’s name and against racial inequality and social injustice. She praised the artists involved for giving up their time for free to support that charity, and spoke about how important awareness and funds raised on the evening would be to the Trust.
Highlights of the concert will be shown on BBC1 on October 1 at 10.35pm and repeated on BBC Three on October 5, with additional performances available on red button interactive. A live album of the concert will also be available from October 1 featuring all performances from the night, with all funds going to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Foundation.
Stephen Lawrence was killed in April 1993 in a racially motivated attack in Eltham, south London. Charges against those accused of his murder were initially dropped due to insufficient evidence, although in 2012, after years of campaigning and several inquiries, two men, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were convicted of Lawrence’s murder and respectively sentenced to 15 and 14 years in prison.