On June 5th, the New York Times talked to Scooter Braun about how the One Love Manchester benefit concert came together so quickly.
In the days after a terrorist bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, killed 22 people and injured more than 100 last month, Ms. Grande struggled with how to respond.
“Everyone was traumatized,” Scooter Braun, her manager, said. “The tour was canceled.”
But after just a few days with her family in Florida, the singer, 23, sent a flurry of text messages to Mr. Braun about “how she needed to do something,” he recalled in an interview on Monday.
“‘Are you ready to perform?’” Mr. Braun said he asked her. “And she said, ‘I want to go back out on that stage.’” They decided to resume Ms. Grande’s “Dangerous Woman” tour in Paris on Wednesday, but not before staging a charity concert in Manchester. “Without the blink of an eye, her response was, ‘I’m in,’” Mr. Braun said. “Then we got to work.”
What followed were 10 hectic days of planning for what would become the “One Love Manchester” benefit show, held on Sunday at the Old Trafford cricket ground, just miles from where the attack occurred. The sold-out concert — about 55,000 people attended — featured emotional performances from Ms. Grande, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Coldplay and more, and has helped raise more than $12 million for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. An average of 10.9 million people watched the concert, which ran slightly longer than three hours, on the BBC in Britain, making it the network’s largest live event on television this year there.
“Everyone put their head down and said, ‘We’re doing it for these families,’” said Mr. Braun, who booked the entire bill — Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, Robbie Williams and Liam Gallagher of Oasis also performed — in less than 24 hours.
“There’s been so much negativity and such a lack of leadership when we’re looking to have hope,” he said. “I think last night the city of Manchester became that symbol of hope.” Ms. Grande’s “courage in this whole thing has been extraordinary,” he added, while also singling out Chris Martin of Coldplay (“a saint”) for his passion throughout the process.
Still, there were obstacles in assembling a concert of such scale — and stakes — in under two weeks. The location was not secured until last Tuesday, with tickets going on sale just days before the show. (“One Love Manchester” was produced by the Live Nation subsidiary Festival Republic and Simon Moran’s SJM Concerts; it was streamed live by the BBC, Twitter, YouTube, iHeartRadio and other media partners.)
“It was up and down, and then just when you think you’ve got things together, the tragedy in London happens,” said Mr. Braun, who also works as a manager for Mr. Bieber and Kanye West, referring to the attack on Saturday that killed seven near the London Bridge.
“There was about 30 seconds to a minute where I definitely questioned if we were doing the right thing,” he said. But Ms. Grande’s team, with the support of the city of Manchester and the victims’ families, decided to proceed — with even greater purpose.
“This evil is going to be there, and the only way we can defeat it is if we choose to live our lives,” Mr. Braun said, calling the concert “a night I will never forget.”
The resilience of the fans, especially, provided a beacon of hope. After Marcus Mumford, of Mumford and Sons, started the show with a moment of silence and then told those gathered not to be afraid, “there was a roar from the crowd that just gave you chills,” Mr. Braun said.
That spirit lasted beyond the concert’s end, he added. As fans streamed toward the exits, they continued to sing “just as loud as they sang the entire night.”
Their refrain? “Manchester, we’re strong/we’re still singing our song.”