Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys surprised Ralph Yarl’s classmates on the last day of school Friday by offering them a free trip to St. Louis and tickets to her July 21 concert there.
In a pre-recorded video message played during an assembly at Staley High School, the “Girl on Fire” and “Empire State of Mind” singer said she was “moved by the demonstration of love, unity, support for our brother Ralph Yarl.”
Yarl, a Staley junior who turned 17 this month, was shot in the head and arm by a Northland homeowner on April 13 when he went to the wrong house to pick up his younger brothers.
The school’s Black Student Union sponsored a “Unity Walk” to demonstrate support for their classmate. More than 1,200 students and staff members walked, some holding signs and chanting “We love you, Ralph.”
Andrew Lester, 84, has been charged in the shooting.
Both Keys and record producer Jay-Z’s Roc Nation contacted the school and offered the all-expense paid trip to the concert, part of the singer’s Keys to the Summer Tour, according to a press release from North Kansas City Schools.
Students and staff gathered in the school’s main gym Friday morning, where they learned of the gift. According to the school, Keys, working with Roc Nation contacted Principal Larry Smith about the possibility of students and staff attending the concert at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.
Roc Nation will coordinate ticket distribution and arrange for charter buses to the show, the school said. Staff are eligible for tickets, too.
All students who attended Staley High this school year are eligible for two tickets and free transportation to St. Louis, school officials said. Minors must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
About 1,500 students attended Staley this school year, with 183 staff members.
Yarl’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore, said he returned to school for a couple of classes a week but isn’t wall enough to return full time.
Keys ended her video invitation by blowing a kiss and exclaiming: “Let’s do this!”