Charlotte livestream concert will benefit Roof Above with impressive regional music lineup paying tribute to fallen artists

By Charlie Leonard

January 11, 2021

Photo: Mike Dickerson

Charlotte’s Tribute to Benefit concert series returns virtually on January 15 with “Love Thy Neighbor.” The concert will bring over 40 artists together to pay tribute to the fallen musicians of 2020 while raising money for Roof Above, a Charlotte non-profit dedicated to fighting homelessness.

“We are at crisis levels with both the COVID-19 pandemic and our housing crisis exacerbating homelessness across Mecklenburg County,” the event description explains. “As a community, we must find a solution immediately.”

That’s exactly what Roof Above is aiming to solve. A merger of the Urban Ministry Center and Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, Roof Above offers a variety of ways to tackle Charlotte’s homelessness problem. The methods range from street outreach and basic services to shelter and housing, reaching an estimated 1,200 people each day across nine campuses. Homeless encampments have existed for decades, but since the onset of the pandemic, the issue of homelessness has become more pronounced.

“During the pandemic, we have seen encampments become much larger and much more visible,” said Liz Clasen-Kelly, the CEO of Roof Above. “This visibility has forced the community to grapple with the reality of our housing and homelessness crisis.

Clasen-Kelly explained that multiple factors, such as the disruption of in-person schooling, have increased the strain on families, which leads to more families and community members seeking assistance. The amount of individuals who are now homeless has forced local entities to find more housing options.

“Housing is the solution to homelessness,” Clasen-Kelly added. “Nonprofits and government partners have responded by significantly increasing shelter beds and doing so in socially distanced ways, like in motels.”

In December, Roof Above acquired an 88-unit hotel that will serve an immediate need as an emergency shelter for women and families. Courtesy of Roof Above

In December, Roof Above acquired an old hotel at the intersection of Clanton Road and Interstate 77 that serves as an emergency shelter for women and children. The hotel acts as Roof Above’s ninth campus, and will eventually become permanent housing in the future. Justin Fedor, creator of the Tribute to Benefit series, spoke of how great of an impact Roof Above has on the city of Charlotte. 

“They meet the challenges faced with helping homeless individuals head-on with compassionate empathy, and I feel that we owe them a debt of gratitude that begins with equipping them with every means necessary to do their work,” he said.

Since 2013, Fedor has organized the Tribute to Benefit concert series on a semi-annual basis, but this is the first time the event will be presented virtually due to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. The show on January 15 will be hosted from a single location, but some of the performances will be pre-recorded at local venues like Neighborhood Theatre, The Evening Muse, Petra’s, and Middle C Jazz. Despite the unique circumstances that prohibit an in-person show, Fedor says there’s one important benefit that can’t be overlooked.

Justin Fedor, musician and creator of Tribute to Benefit. Photo: McKay Pruitt

“I don’t think Tribute To Benefit could afford to bring all of these artists together physically nor would it be the most expeditious way to get money to Roof Above,” he said. “This way, all of the money goes directly to them [Roof Above] because they set up the GoFundMe which is entirely tax-deductible. By not coming together physically, we’re actually streamlining this so that we can better serve our community.”

While raising money to support Roof Above, Love Thy Neighbor: A Tribute To Benefit will simultaneously pay tribute to artists who passed away in 2020. Artists like John Prine, Eddie Van Halen, Neil Peart of Rush, Billy Joe Shaver, Little Richard, Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, and more. Each performance will be grouped in accordance to the artist they will play tribute to, covering one song. 

The artists scheduled to perform include a variety of musical genres and skill sets. This year’s lineup will feature Adam Lazzara, lead vocalist of Taking Back Sunday; Tyler Ramsey, the former guitarist and songwriter for Band of Horses; country music singer and longtime Billy Joe Shaver guitarist Jeremy Lynn Woodall; Graham Sharp from Asheville’s Grammy Award-winning bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers; vocalist Chris Shinn from the bands Live and Unified Theory; Fedor & The Denim Denim; and Americana singer Sierra Ferrell. Charlotte’s own Benji Hughes, pop/punk outfit Petrov, singer-songwriter Brit Drozda, and Ramseur Records artist  David Childers round out a spectacular lineup of music. 

Love Thy Neighbor: A Tribute To Benefit Roof Above is free, but a donation to the event’s official GoFundMe is requested for those who are able to give. So far, over $2,000 has been raised toward the overall goal of $100,000 to help Roof Above achieve their mission of fighting homelessness in the city. Clasen-Kelly said that citizens have the power to help fight homelessness  in ways that go beyond donating money.

“We also encourage people to advocate,” she said. “Both the City Council and County Commission have supported important housing initiatives over the last three years, and it is important that they hear from their citizens that we appreciate their leadership and would love to see more affordable housing solutions for our most vulnerable neighbors.”

For more information on how to help Roof Above fight homelessness, check out their wishlist. Love Thy Neighbor: A Tribute To Benefit Roof Above will air on January 15 at 8 p.m. on Facebook. You can also donate directly to the GoFundMe campaign here

Listen to the official Tribute To Benefit Roof Above playlist.

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