The pop star grieves for her fans

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - What a Week! -

Un­able to hold back her tears af­ter a sui­cide bomber killed and in­jured dozens of her ador­ing fans in Manch­ester last week, Ari­ana Grande flew home to Florida and into the lov­ing arms of her rap­per boyfriend Mac Miller.

But the night­mare has only just be­gun for the 23-year-old pop star. Since the shock­ing at­tack, which in­stantly killed 22 con­cert-go­ers and in­jured 64 more, the for­mer child ac­tress has shut her­self away in her par­ents’ gated com­mu­nity man­sion in Boca Ra­ton, too dev­as­tated to eat or sleep.

“Ari­ana is go­ing to need a lot of help,” a source close to the “Prob­lem” singer tells Wo­man’s Day. “Right now, she doesn’t want to see any­one. She’s lost for words. Mac is do­ing ev­ery­thing he can to help.”

Mourn­ing for her fans, Ari­ana can­celled her up­com­ing Danger­ous Wo­man tour con­cert dates in Europe. A de­ci­sion

has yet to be made on her sched­uled Septem­ber 2 gig in Auck­land. “Ari­ana’s not in any state to get back on stage,” says our source. “Her mum is al­ready think­ing that she is go­ing to need years of ther­apy to get over this.”

Un­til last Mon­day, the Grammy-nom­i­nated singer was a ris­ing pop princess – fa­mous for her trade­mark high pony­tail, risqué stage cos­tumes and mes­sage of fe­male em­pow­er­ment – with a fol­low­ing mostly of young girls and teenagers. Now her fame is at an all-time high, but for all the wrong rea­sons.

Dur­ing her ill-fated May 22 con­cert in Manch­ester, Twit­ter, Face­book and In­sta­gram were filled with posts from ex­cited young­sters en­joy­ing the sold-out gig. For many, it was their first-ever con­cert.

Around 10.30pm, as Ari­ana was singing her fi­nal en­core, Bri­tish-born Sal­man Abedi, 22, who is be­lieved to have been rad­i­calised in Syria, walked un­chal­lenged into the grounds of the Manch­ester Arena with a nail bomb in a suit­case.

Unac­com­pa­nied teens and fam­i­lies with young chil­dren had started to stream out of the venue when an almighty bang was heard. It took a few mo­ments for peo­ple to reg­is­ter that there had been a mas­sive ex­plo­sion near the ticket of­fice.

As passers-by, in­clud­ing two home­less men, rushed to help the in­jured, Ari­ana’s mother Joan, 48, who was en­joy­ing the con­cert from the front row, ush­ered a large group of young fans to safety back­stage and com­forted them un­til they were told it was safe to leave.

“Ari­ana was im­mensely proud of her mum and wanted to stay in Manch­ester long enough to place flow­ers at the scene,” says our source. “But the po­lice urged her to leave im­me­di­ately.”

While there is no sug­ges­tion that Ari­ana is still in dan­ger, it’s been claimed she was tar­geted by ex­trem­ists ISIS. Au­thor James Harkin ex­plains, “Her re­veal­ing stage out­fits, her stock­ings, pink bunny ears and un­abashed sex­ual con­fi­dence … is a sym­bol of ev­ery­thing [they] hate.”

Western mu­sic is for­bid­den by ISIS and any­one caught with it in the group’s con­trolled ter­ri­tory is “re­warded by be­tween 30 and 40 lashes with a whip or stick”, he says. “Women are forced to cover up and wear the face veil when out­side, and never to leave home with­out a chap­er­one. The sight of Ari­ana Grande and her risqué stage out­fits would be anath­ema to the fa­nat­ics.”

Touch­ing trib­ute

Feisty Ari­ana has al­ways been proud to stand up for what she be­lieves in, aban­don­ing Ro­man Catholi­cism in favour of Kab­balah sev­eral years ago, when she re­alised the re­li­gion would not ac­cept her openly gay brother Frankie.

Fol­low­ing the hor­rific at­tack in Eng­land, Ari­ana’s fam­ily and Mac, 25, who she has been dat­ing for nine months, hope her be­lief in the nat­u­ral good­ness of oth­ers will pre­vail. Our source says, “At the mo­ment, Ari­ana can’t bring her­self to look at the news or even browse the in­ter­net. She did see pho­tos of some of the vic­tims and she broke down once again.

“Once she’s over the shock, she’s think­ing about bring­ing out a spe­cial sin­gle with all the pro­ceeds go­ing to the peo­ple af­fected. She just wants to do what’s right to help them.

"She’ll def­i­nitely re­turn to Manch­ester to meet the sur­vivors and the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims. But it will be a while yet as she is too dis­traught. This has left her scarred for life.”

Po­lice and emer­gency ser­vices rush to help vic­tims af­ter the hor­rific ex­plo­sion at Manch­este r Arena.

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