Benefit Concert “Love Rising” Celebrates the Voice of Freedom

On March 20th, at Bridgestone Arena of Memphis Tennessee, a diverse group of artists came together to perform at Love Rising, a benefit concert supporting LGBTQ+ foundations in light of antiqueer legislation encroaching upon Tennessee and the rest of the country. Presented by Live Nation, the festival featured a star studded lineup, including Yola Marren Morris, Julien Baker, Hozier, Hayley Williams, Brothers Osborne, Sheryl Crow and other iconic allies. 

Marren Morris (left) and Alexia Noelle (right) Photo Credit: Ed Rode/Invision/AP

Multiple charities bound together for the festival, whose profits funnel directly back into the organizations. The Tennessee Equality Project uses legislative advocacy, including lobbying and assemblage in local state government, to fight for equal LGBTQ+ rights in Tennessee. Inclusion Tennessee is an equity based organization that connects the community to resources in Tennessee, promoting LGBTQ+ wellbeing in the state. OUTMemphis, since 1989, serves thousands of citizens a year in healthcare and financial security, specifically pioneering against homelessness among youth LGBTQ+. The Tennessee Pride Chamber represents allied professionals in Tennessee, driven by advocacy, education, and connection. They offer a leading professional voice on LGBTQ+ advocacy in representing a coalition of Tennessee businesses.

Finally, the entire event was in partnership with The Looking Out Foundation, who prioritizes music to work as a voice for those without one. The foundation bands artists, fans, and nonprofits together to use music as not only a unifier, but an agent of change. A part of their ticket proceeds goes directly to supporting social justice and humanitarian causes across the globe. The Looking Out Foundation pledged to support the event by accepting donations and doubling contributions received, up to a maximum of $100,000. 

Since 2015, Tennessee has enacted more anti-LGBTQIA+ laws than any other state in the country. The Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 9 ban performance of the art of drag, labeled “female or male impersonation,” from taking place in public or around minors. Love Rising is serving a crucial role in its occurrence, hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Asia O’Hara, and featured performances from multiple drag queens local to Tennessee. 

“As a queer, intersectional artist and mother, raising my child in Nashville, it’s important to me to support these wonderful Tennessee LGBTQIA+ advocacy organizations, working so hard to build bridges, reduce harm and promote equality for all Tennesseans… LGBTQIA+ contributions and creativity are foundational to every genre of modern song and arts performance. I think it speaks volumes that so many in our community are feeling the same call to support, celebrate and uplift!”

– Allison Russell

The artists captured the hearts of every audience member, creating a safe space to sing in both mourning and celebration, two feelings that the queer community battles in heavy contrast in the United States. Julien Baker brought a stunning cover of  Neko Case’s “Man,” to claim trans power with lines such as  “I’m not an identity crisis.” Hozier’s performance of his renowned “Take Me to Church” greatly impacted the crowd as they paid tribute to the religious turmoil that queer people face in themselves and from their communities. By bringing vulnerability to the stage, an astounding sense of community was found.

The event was successful in its necessary social work and building of a sanctuary of artists and listeners. Benefit Concerts are special, because music is the ultimate unifier. When strangers can come together and feel the same thing as everyone else they have never met, inspiration is found and change is strove for. 

To be a part of the change, register to vote in Tennessee below and donate to Love Rising here. Keep up with current legislation and proposals in Tennessee.

Haven Capone Author
I love listening to folk and laughing until I cry.
Haven Capone Author
I love listening to folk and laughing until I cry.

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