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Shirley Caesar Honors Charleston Victims on Anniversary of Church Shooting

By Philip Trapp on Jun 15, 2016 09:18 AM EDT
Shirley Caesar Singer Shirley Caesar performs onstage during the BET Celebration of Gospel 2013 at Orpheum Theatre on March 16, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo : Kevin Winter/Getty Images for BET)

Legendary gospel singer Shirley Caesar, hailed by many as the "First Lady of Gospel Music," will honor the nine victims of last year's Charleston, South Carolina church shooting with a performance this weekend at Emanuel AME Church.

Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the horrific mass shooting at the downtown Charleston church. Caesar will perform on Saturday among the weekend's many events being held to celebrate the lives of the nine fallen, all of whom were Methodist African Americans attending a bible study there on the evening of June 17, 2015.

Rev. Dr. Bernice King will also deliver a keynote speech at the event. There will be a release of doves at 11:30 a.m. this Saturday, June 18, at Emanuel AME, followed by the Mother Emanuel Tree Dedication Ceremony at 12:30 p.m. featuring singer Caesar and speaker King.

Caesar recently shared her feelings and faith regarding last year's tragedy

"I remember before the Lord saved me, that I had difficulty in forgiving people," Caesar said to The Huffington Post. "I felt like whenever people did me wrong the first thing I'd say to myself, and I say to them, 'I don't deserve this' and those people [the victims] did not deserve that. And it took me at least two weeks to forgive that boy [Dylann Roof] for doing what he did to those nine people."

Caesar just released her latest album, Fill This House, on June 3. The album contains her dedication to the Charleston shooting victims in the touching song "Mother Emanuel." A review at the Washington Post praised the album for its uplifting and soulful selections: 

"Caesar is an influential pillar within the gospel music realm. The 11-time Grammy winner still finds a way to release praise-and-worship songs that are pleasing to the soul, and Fill This House is a winner."

A full list of events for this weekend at Emanuel AME can be found here.

Listen to "Mother Emanuel" here:

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