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Arts & Culture

Banded Together

USM Institutions to Host Virtual Benefit Concert to Help Students in Financial Crisis

By Maryland Today Staff

Collage of performers Koffee, W. Kamau Bell, Jesse McCartney, 3OH!3 and Jaboukie Young-White

Collage by Stephanie S. Cordle; photos courtesy of artists

Koffee (left), W. Kamau Bell, Jesse McCartney, 3OH!3 and Jaboukie Young-White are all slated to perform during Saturday’s USM United Virtual Benefit Concert, which aims to raise money for student emergency assistance funds.

Comedians and singer-songwriters. Bands and a cappella groups. University presidents and Gov. Larry Hogan. On Saturday, they’ll all come together (through your computer screen) for a common cause.

The University System of Maryland institutions will host the USM United Virtual Benefit Concert, featuring student, alumni and local community performances, as well as a lineup of national acts, to raise money for student emergency assistance funds supporting those who who’ve suffered financial hardships due to COVID-19. The show, which will start livestreaming on YouTube and Facebook at 2 p.m., is expected to last until around 8 p.m.

“We thought, ‘How do we take a concert experience and do it virtually?’” said Laura Hood, manager of student programs at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, who helped organize the event. “We tried to have a little bit of everything.”

When the novel coronavirus began shutting down campuses this spring, Hood and colleagues across the state brainstormed how to best use leftover resources from canceled concerts and other big events. With an uptick of benefit concerts and similar fundraisers appearing on TV, they decided to host one of their own to help students in need.

They formed the USM Activities Consortium, which met virtually every Monday, and reached out to students, alumni and more to secure acts for the concert. Besides featuring musical and comedic performances, the concert will also include messages from university presidents and stories from those who have benefited from emergency assistance funds, such as UMD’s Student Crisis Fund, which has provided more than $1.1 million in financial assistance to 2,276 Terps since mid-March.

Take a look below at some of the biggest acts taking the virtual stage:

Jaboukie Young-White holds a microphoneJaboukie Young-White
The comedian will host Saturday’s show, introducing acts along with a pair of USM students. A correspondent on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah,” Young-White has appeared in the movies “Rough Night” and “Set It Up,” as well as “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and the HBO show “Crashing.” Previously a staff writer on Netflix’s “American Vandal” and “Big Mouth,” he earned a spot on Rolling Stone’s 25 Under 25 list and was named one of Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch in 2018.

Members of 3OH!3 pose on recycling bins3OH!3
Since 2008, the duo of Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte has been selling out venues and college campuses around the world. After releasing hits like “Don’t Trust Me,” “Starstruckkk” featuring Katy Perry and “My First Kiss” featuring Kesha, they’ve written and produced songs for artists such as Maroon 5, MAX, Ariana Grande and BTS/Steve Aoki.


Headshot of singer KoffeeKoffee
Inspired by reggae legends Protoje and Supercat as well as rappers Smino and Giggs, Mikayla “Koffee” Simpson has gone from writing lyrics in her bedroom to netting invitations to perform with reggae stars Coco Tea, Protoje and Chronixx. Her debut EP “Rapture” has amassed millions of streams since its release last year.


Headshot of singer Jesse McCartneyJesse McCartney
After rising to fame as a soap-opera actor and boy band pop star, McCartney co-wrote the Grammy Award-winning song “Bleeding Love,” the best-selling single of 2008. The singer-songwriter released the well-received album “In Technicolor” in 2014, followed four years later by the single “Better With You.” After touring the U.S. and Asia last year, he’s back in the studio.


Headshot of comedian W. Kamau BellW. Kamau Bell
The sociopolitical comedian, who will hold a Q&A session during Saturday’s benefit concert, is the host and executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning CNN docuseries “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” and the director of the documentary “Cultureshock: Chris Rock’s Bring the Pain.” His most recent stand-up special, “Private School Negro,” is on Netflix, and he wrote the 2018 book, “The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6’ 4”, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama's Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian.”



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