Thousands of people packed a stadium in Charlottesville Sunday for a concert intended to raise money for charity and promote unity in the aftermath of this summer's white nationalist rallies.

Dave Matthews, whose band got its start in the Virginia college town, hosted A Concert For Charlottesville: An Evening Of Music And Unity. He thanked the attendees and performers for coming together on short notice. 

Confederate Monument Protest Concert

Dave Matthews, whose band got its start in Virginia college town Charlottesville, hosted the benefit show. (Zack Wajsgras/The Daily Progress/Associated Press)

Matthews introduced Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed when a driver slammed into a crowd protesting the white nationalists on Aug. 12. Bro told the crowd the concert was a "powerful and peaceful" way to come together and turn anger into action and understanding. 

Confederate Monument Protest Concert

Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, speaks to the crowd at the start of the unity concert on Sunday, in Charlottesville, Va. (Zack Wajsgras/The Daily Progress/Associated Press)

The concert also reflected the weekend's U.S. national anthem protests by more than 200 major league athletes and some team owners against divisive comments made by U.S. President Donald Trump and in silent protest of racial inequality and police violence against African-Americans.

Singer Pharrell Williams dropped to his knees midway during his performance at the Charlottesville concert, echoing the gesture made by hosts of professional athletes as well as entertainers such as Stevie Wonder this past weekend.

"If I want to get on my knees right now for the people in my city, for the people in my state — that's what that flag is for," declared Williams, who hails from Virginia.

"When I think about the potential of this country, the potential of this state, the potential of these people, the potential of this amazing, amazing university, there's only one word that I feel on the inside," he concluded before launching into his upbeat, chart-topping, Grammy-winning track Happy.

Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland of Coldplay made a surprise appearance. Other performers included Cage the Elephant, Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande and The Roots. 

With files from CBC News