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Manchester attack highlights why music matters to girls and why girls matter to music

Ariana Grande performs onstage during Power 96.1's Jingle Ball 2016 at Philips Arena on December 16, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Ariana Grande performs onstage during Power 96.1's Jingle Ball 2016 at Philips Arena on December 16, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for iHeart

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Monday's deadly attack following an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England left at least 22 people dead and 59 injured.

Twelve children were among the wounded, and two young girls so far have been identified among the fatalities — one of them just 8-years-old.

NPR music critic and correspondent Ann Powers is a frequent concert-goer and the mom of a 13-year-old daughter. Powers says she was consumed by the news Monday night.

The images of the aftermath of the bombing compelled her to write a poignant Facebook post about the deep connection between young girls and live music:

The Frame's John Horn spoke with Powers about what it means to be a young girl at a concert and the important role that girls have played in the history of popular music.

Interview highlights:

On Ariana Grande's music and her fanbase

Ariana Grande is a pop star. She makes Top 40 music that is musically in the tradition of Mariah Carey or Katy Perry. Her own image is all about empowerment, which some people are talking about today. It's all about being a sassy girl who talks back to authority, who owns herself, who enjoys her life. And her image is very candy-colored, so she appeals to children — not just teenage girls, but tweens and young children. And then she also has a strong LGBTQ following because she's a little campy in her presentation. She's just a really positive, happy-go-lucky pop star.

On what compelled her to write a Facebook post about girls and music

I was thinking about who was at that show. I was looking at pictures of some of the fans who were at that time missing or reuniting with their parents or, God forbid, had been actually hurt in the bombing. And I was thinking about my own daughter and myself and what it means to be a young girl immersing yourself in a live concert and how for so many of us that's a rite of passage.

I was also thinking about how the history of rock and roll and popular music is driven by the engine of young girls' fandom — from Elvis to the Beatles onward. And I would add Motown — across genres, across race, across everything, young girls are such an important part of pop music. And I guess I was responding to that. It's partly my own memories, partly how I've seen my kid get excited when she goes to shows, all of that rolled up into one.

On whether the Manchester attack changes how she feels about attending concerts

Well I go to shows three or four nights a week here in Nashville and usually they're much smaller venues ... but, yeah, I do think about it, I do worry about it. Equally so though, I was thinking about the people in Nashville who were pouring out of the Nashville Predators  game — they're conference champions, there's so much excitement in the city for hockey, and that too could be a target. There's a poignancy about music becoming a target, but I would hate so much if our public life, the places we go to share joy across the lines that often divide us, if any of those realms are affected, it's just such a huge tragedy.

To hear the full interview with Ann Powers click the blue player above. 

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