Virginia Tech University is looking to begin the fall semester on a positive note.
The Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Nas and country singer Phil Vassar have signed on to headline a free concert for students, faculty and staff at the Blacksburg campus to honor the 32 people killed in April by a student gunman.
The memorial concert will take place Sept. 6 at the University’s Lane Stadium. Corporate sponsorships and merchandise will cover the cost of putting on the event; all of the acts have waived their usual fees.
“We have a profound respect for the incredible resolve and unwavering sense of hope the university community has shown and are honored to have the opportunity to share this evening with Virginia Tech,” DMB drummer Carter Beauford said in a statement.
Matthews, who was born in South Africa, first started making a name for himself as part of the local Charlottesville, Virginia, music scene, where he also eventually met up with frequent collaborator Tim Reynolds. Vassar, meanwhile, is from nearby Lynchburg.
“We’re extremely grateful for the compassion and generosity of these artists who wished to create a very special event where our students, faculty and staff can come together to celebrate the spirit and resiliency of our university community as we begin a new academic year,” Virginia Tech president Charles Steger said in a statement.
Twenty-seven students and five faculty members were killed Apr. 16 by 23-year-old Seung Hui Cho, who shot two of his peers in a dorm shortly after 7 a.m. and then, two and a half hours later, opened fire on several classrooms full of people in a building across campus before taking his own life.
An on-campus monument commemorating the victims is scheduled to be dedicated Aug. 19.