A South Florida superstar is at the center of today's biggest and most tragic news story. A suicide bomber struck an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last night, killing 22 and injuring more than 50 others.
British authorities say they believe the attack was an act of terrorism carried out by a 23-year-old man. The name of the bomber, who authorities believe was killed in the blast, has not yet been released. The attack, for which ISIS is claiming responsibility, is the deadliest in England since the 2005 bombings targeting the London transportation system.
Grande, a native of Boca Raton, was performing in Manchester as part of her Dangerous Woman Tour, which also included a stop in Miami last month. She has suspended the tour and took to Twitter last night to post a distraught message to fans:
broken.— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 23, 2017
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words.
The Manchester attack drew condolences from celebrities around the world. President Donald Trump made a statement from Bethlehem, where he was visiting on his first official international trip, calling the perpetrators "evil losers." Musicians such as Nicki Minaj, Harry Styles, Bruno Mars, and Lorde offered words of support.
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Grande grew up in South Florida, performing with the Fort Lauderdale Children's Theater before landing a role on the 2010 Nickelodeon TV show Victorious. Her performance earned her a starring role in the spinoff Sam & Cat. Shortly after, Grande turned her focus to music, releasing her debut album, Yours Truly, in 2013. Since then, she's been a staple on the pop music scene, with chart-topping hits including "The Way" with boyfriend Mac Miller, the dance hit "Break Free," and the lead single from her latest album, "Dangerous Woman." With the last song, Grande became the first artist to have the lead single from each of her first three albums debut in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
In April, as the Dangerous Woman Tour was set to stop in Miami, New Times posited that Grande's success in an industry full of pop starlets was due, in part, to her command over her public sexual persona. Whether Grande's public persona contributed to last night's attacks is unclear. We might never know the intentions of the bomber. We do know that the idea of a woman happily in charge of her own body is viewed as dangerous in societies across the world.
It's difficult to imagine that misogyny played no part in last night's bombing, which attacked Grande and her fan base, composed primarily of teenage girls. Perhaps that's why this attack feels so personal: not only because it threatened a South Florida star, but also because it threatens women and the people who love them worldwide.