The eyes of the nation turned to Dayton three times this year.
Kevin Carter says Daytonians stood together each of those times. He worked to reflect that strength in song.
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“Dayton Strong,” a single Carter recently released, features the speech locally based comedian Dave Chappelle used to open Gem City Shine, a fundraiser held on Aug. 25 in the wake of the Aug. 4 Oregon District mass shooting.
“Today we are going to show the world that nothing will get us down,” Chappelle says in the clip from Gem City Shine included in Carter’s song. “Dayton, Ohio, no matter what is going on, no matter how tough these times get, we hold our heads up high. Because we know what we are about.”
Carter, who is also known as K. Carter, says his lyrics reflect the unity that brought Dayton together when a KKK-affiliated group organized a rally on Courthouse Square, 15 tornadoes hit the Dayton area a few days later on Memorial Day and a mass shooter killed nine and caused more than 30 others to be injured in the Oregon District.
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“I felt the city didn’t really have a theme song or anthem to signify us or what we’ve been through,” the Dayton native said. “It lets us know that everything is going to be OK if we all do our part.”
The Wright State University graduate wrote the song, featuring vocals by Dayton singer Valerie Brown, after being asked to perform at Gem City Shine.
The event’s organizers in the end used only national acts.
A hip-hop fan since childhood, Carter said music has power.
“I wanted everybody to be able to listen to it no matter what race or age or gender. You can stand together and put differences aside and come together as a city,” he said. “Let’s not forgot how it brought us together and let’s stay that way.”
The cyber security professional plans to soon work on a music video for Dayton Strong.
“It is something for everybody, and it is something that everybody needs to hear,” Carter said. “You just need that confirmation that everything is going to be OK .”