The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School show choir joined Shawn Mendes and Khalid on stage at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday night for a performance of “Youth.” That’s the school where the Parkland shooting happened just over three months ago, and that’s the song where the chorus repeatedly asserts that “you can’t take my youth away,” so it was a defiant and energizing performance just by virtue of existing. The choir got a standing ovation when they walked onto stage to harmonize with Mendes and Khalid. “I was just super honored to be able to do that with them,” Mendes said backstage after the performance. “I’ve never experienced goosebumps like that on stage before.”
Singer Bebe Rexha introduced the performance with the sad fact that students at Santa Fe High School—where Friday’s school shooting took place—had participated in the protests against gun violence sparked by the Parkland shooting.
Spin reports that the choir’s appearance was planned long before the Santa Fe shooting, which means the mass shooting cycle is now moving faster than the award show tribute cycle. As Mendes put it backstage, “We’re very, very overdue for a change.”