Gospel legend Shirley Caesar is honoring the memory of those killed during the 2015 Emmanuel AME Church shooting.
Friday will mark one year since 22-year-old gunman Dylan Roof opened fire at the Charleston, SC church and claimed nine lives in a self-professed hate crime during a Wednesday night bible study session. As a tribute to those who lost their lives in the senseless shooting spree, Shirley will perform at the Mother Emmanuel Tree dedication ceremony on Saturday, June 18, following an address from the event’s keynote speaker Dr. Bernice King.
Emmanuel AME holds a special place in Shirley’s heart, as she received her honorary doctorate degree at the church some 35 years ago. The award-winning gospel songstress will perform a new tribute song penned in honor of the lives lost during the shooting and she says recording the tribute was a therapeutic experience for her. “I remember before the Lord saved me, that I had difficulty in forgiving people,” she told The Huffington Post. “I felt like whenever people did me wrong the first thing I’d say to myself, and I say to them, ‘I don’t deserve this’ and those people [the victims] did not deserve that. And it took me at least two weeks to forgive that boy [Dylann Roof,] for doing what he did to those nine people.”
Shirley says she’s also hoping to record a music video for the tribute song, titled “Mother Emmanuel,” in the near future. The song is also found on her latest album, Fill This House.
WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.