After all the musicians — including Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Coldplay and Pharrell Williams — left the stage Sunday night at One Love Manchester, Ariana Grande walked back out, blowing kisses to the crowd.
She began to sing “Over the Rainbow,” an optimistic coda for a tribute concert to the 22 killed and more than 55 injured by a terrorist attack at her May 22 show in Manchester. Halfway through, her voice faltered with emotion.
The concertgoers, so recently touched by tragedy, remained mostly silent as they waved their lit phone screens in the night sky, just as people held lighters 20 years earlier. Several audience members cried as Grande’s voice soared with lyrics that have stood for hope for some eight decades.
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
The song was first written for the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” and sung by Judy Garland’s Dorothy before visiting the enchanted land of Oz.
Prolific American composer Harold Arlen wrote the music. And Yip Harburg — a liberal so outspoken on issues of gender, race and worker’s rights he earned the nickname “Broadway’s social conscience” — penned its brief but everlasting lyrics.
Harburg, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, was born as Edgar Yipsel Harburg into extreme poverty in 1896 on New York City’s Lower East Side. Like so many Jewish immigrant children in New York, he attended City College, along with high school classmate Ira Gershwin. The pair often wrote poems together.
But Harburg considered writing something done “for fun, a sideline,” and decided to go into the electrical supply business to claw his way out of poverty. He mostly succeeded until the Great Depression, which financially devastated him.