BALTIMORE - Reclusive rocker Prince took the stage on Sunday in a "Rally 4 Peace" concert in response to the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man whose death from injuries suffered while in police custody triggered riots, telling the crowd: "We are here for you."
The Grammy-winning musician, appearing at Royal Farms Arena along with his backing band 3RDEYEGIRL, performed such hits as "When Doves Cry" and "Raspberry Beret," as well as a new song called "Baltimore," which he dedicated to the city.
"We are here for you tonight," he said. "It's going to be all right. We're going to figure this thing out," Prince said while performing "Purple Rain." "It's going to take the young people to fix it this time. We need new ideas," he said.
"I think he showed why he's still extremely important. He brought a community together," fan Jamal Terrell, 41, said.
"It's much bigger than a color issue. There's people from all walks of life here," Terrell said.
Surprise guests were promised, and delivered, including Doug E. Fresh and Miguel.
Returning to the stage for one of many encores, Prince said, "No curfew," a reference to the citywide curfew put in place after rioting in Baltimore last month.
Many concert-goers wore gray in response to promotional images, an apparent reference to Gray, who died in a Baltimore hospital a week after his arrest on April 12.
Streaming service Tidal, which carried the event, said a portion of the proceeds would go towards funding Baltimore youth charities.
Gray's death became the latest flashpoint in a national outcry over police killings of unarmed black men and other minority groups in the United States. It provoked weeks of protests punctuated by a day of riots, arson and looting in Baltimore on April 27.
Days later Baltimore's chief prosecutor announced charges against all six police officers involved in Gray's arrest, ranging from misconduct in office to second degree murder.
Prince released "Baltimore" ahead of the concert, featuring performer Eryn Allen Kane, which includes a mention of Gray.
While Gray was not killed by gunfire, the song urges: "Let's take all the guns away."