Local musician Ryland Underwood has planted the seeds for a week-long event to raise money for the Mother Emanuel Hope fund, including a possible two-day music festival.

“On Thursday, I threw it out there saying I’d like to see the Charleston music community ban together to throw a benefit,” says Underwood, who works at Guitar Center Charleston. “And within 48 hours we had a group page with over 200 members.”

The group, called Emanuel AME Benefit Show Planning, has already established that the event will take place in August, though the dates and venue haven’t been firmed up yet. “We are planning on hosting smaller events around the city at different locations with anyone who’s willing to participate,” Underwood says. As far as the larger two-day event goes, the group is looking into area amphitheaters.

Local radio station 98 Rock has committed to helping with the benefit, while over 40 local and regional bands have signed on to perform, including rockers Under the Storm, Southern alt-rock/country band Trick Knee, country artist Brady Smith, and hip-hop artist Bass Ghost. “I want this to be an event that has artists of many different genres so we can capture the essence of diversity and unity within our community,” says Wayne Goin Hampleton, a.k.a. Bass Ghost.

Underwood, who will also perform, says he has reached out to Darius Rucker, Edwin McCain, and Needtobreathe in hopes of gaining their support, too.

But the benefit brainstorm doesn’t stop with just a few days of music. Underwood has plans for local musicians to write and record a song in response to the Mother Emanuel AME shootings. In addition, the stage is set for a non-profit called Holy City Hope to surface very soon. “The focus of our group is going to be to first aid the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, but going forward we also want to aid and provide resources to families affected by violence in our city.”

Anyone who’d like to volunteer with the projects in any way are encouraged to join the Emanuel AME Benefit Show Planning page on Facebook. There’s also a Holy City Hope GoFundMe account for folks wanting to donate to the cost of the event.

“I don’t mean to be preachy, but we are the Holy City,” says Underwood, who is also a bassist at Newspring Church. “It’s awesome to see how many people are in this together. This event is for everybody, kind of like our city. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe in — we all live here and because of that we can all be a part of this.” 

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