Nonprofit organization 1DayLA hosted their special event, The Freedom Experience, on Saturday, July 24th. At the core of 1DayLA is the celebration of community, which over 20,000 members participated in over the course of three days in Los Angeles that week. Volunteers and contributors from all across the Los Angeles region gathered at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California for one final hurrah and to close out the celebration of humanity. The one-night-only, not-to-be-missed experience featured a star-studded lineup for the festivities. Among these included Pop superstar Justin Bieber, Tori Kelly, Jaden Smith, Chance the Rapper, Chandler Moore, and Grammy Award-winning artist, Kari Jobe.
Kicking off the festivities was Jaden Smith, who came out with a bang accompanied by a Tesla-inspired stage setup. With non-stop energy and a plethora of pyrotechnics, Smith dove into hits such as “P,” “I,” and “GHOST.” The energy only heightened as Chance the Rapper took the stage, who got the crowd especially roaring with “No Problem,” before proceeding into “Blessings,” “The Heart & the Tongue,” and a stripped-down cover of DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One.”
In between sets, event host Jason Kennedy greeted the crowd and continuously thanked the volunteers and those in attendance for helping put on such an extraordinary event. “It’s been a rough year, but how great is it to be back to live music? Tonight is all about community. It’s about humanity. We couldn’t have done this without you, so thank you.” Kennedy expressed before introducing singing/songwriting extraordinaire Tori Kelly.
Kelly’s performance, while definitely the shortest out of all the sets that night, did not miss a beat. Over the two songs that she performed, her vocal and stage presence was captivating enough that not a single seat was empty in the stadium. It’s no secret that Kelly is very connected to her faith, which made the perfect addition to the lineup. Her riffs and runs soared as she performed her Unbreakable Smile deluxe hit “Hollow” and unorthodox selection “Help Us to Love” — off her 2018 Gospel album, The Hiding Place.
As the lengthy intermission concluded amidst a few sponsored videos, the stadium lights went down, with the only illumination on display being two cross symbols on both sides of one giant marquee that read “Freedom.” Headliner and pop sensation Justin Bieber took the stage, breaking out into “Somebody.” Quality over quantity was definitely the rule in regards to his performance, which featured 14 songs that covered all the bases for new material, fan-favorites, radio-friendly singles, and throwbacks. “Who’s feeling fly tonight? Who’s ready to have a good time? I am so, so grateful to be here,” Bieber professed. The “Anyone” crooner put on quite the extravaganza, bringing out multiple special guests in between numbers such as The Kid LAROI for “STAY,” Jaden Smith for “Never Say Never,” and of course “HOLY” with Chance the Rapper. With a few of these artists already featured on the lineup, it made sense that some form of an appearance was likely to occur. However, seeing it all come to fruition was nothing short of exhilarating.
The pinnacle of the night was Bieber’s friend and pastor, Judah Smith, who made an appearance during the latter part of this set and led attendees through a spiritual experience. While not exclusively a religious gathering, 1DayLA didn’t shy away from its faith-based notion. Smith has previously accompanied Bieber on his Purpose Tour back in 2016 and has been credited as a significant figure in Bieber’s journey as an artist and individual, even officiating his wedding. Bieber took multiple occasions to address his struggle with mental health, addiction, depression, and most importantly, his faith. “If you ever feel like you aren’t worthy enough or that you aren’t qualified… Let me tell you, you guys are most definitely qualified,” he stated.
Closing out on an extremely inspirational high, Contemporary artist Kari Jobe made her way to the stage for the curtain call and “The Blessing” — the commercially successful hit penned by Jobe & husband Cody Carnes, made arguably renown by Elevation Worship. 1DayLA, as well as The Freedom Experience, was something of a phenomenon — the first of its inception, without a doubt, and one that will set the precedent for similar future gatherings. If this year’s success was any indication, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the coming years.
Photos courtesy of 1DayLA, used with permission.