Recently critically-acclaimed Shawn Mendes and partner in Gen-Z chart-conquering feats Khalid debuted their song “Youth” live at tonight’s Billboard Music Awards, joined by members of Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Show Choir. A genuinely stirring ballad about staying true to yourself, “Youth” offers a message of hope in spite of an unstable, frequently dangerous world that would rather silence young adults than let them speak out. On stage at tonight’s ceremony, Khalid and Mendes, who played guitar, finished their performance standing with their arms around the students from Parkland, Florida.
As TMZ reported earlier today, Mendes and Khalid planned their performance as a tribute to young people affected by gun violence and invited participation from students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the site of the February school shooting that killed 17 people and spurred the March for Our Lives youth activist movement. Sadly, the subject couldn’t be more urgent: Last Friday, as the performers rehearsed for tonight’s event, another horrific school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas on Friday killed 10 people. Host Kelly Clarkson opened the show with a tribute to them and their families.
Khalid was nominated for five Billboard Awards this year, including Top New Artist (which he won), Top Male R&B Artist, Top R&B Album, and Top R&B Song for his hit “Young Dumb & Broke.” He also appeared earlier at tonight’s ceremony to perform “Love Lies,” his duet with Fifth Harmony‘s Normani.
Mendes had just one award nomination this year, in the fan-voted Top Social Artist category, which he lost to BTS. “Youth” is the third single from Mendes’s upcoming self-titled album, out May 25. Also last Friday, Mendes appeared as a surprise guest at Taylor Swift‘s Reputation tour, where the two performed his 2017 hit “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back.”
Watch a clip of Shawn Mendes, Khalid, and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students performing “Youth” at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards below.