Grammy winner H.E.R. is inviting music fans to rock with her via Instagram Live on Monday night (April 6, 8 p.m. ET) for Girls With Guitars. Curated by the singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist and featuring special guests (yet-unannounced), it’s the first installment in the artist’s new weekly live performance and conversation series via her Instagram page (@hermusicofficial). It’s also the latest entrée in a bountiful menu of music livestreams and consciousness-raising events keeping the global R&B/hip-hop community connected as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage.
On Monday night alone, fans can not only check out H.E.R., they can also hear R&B singers Bobby V and Pleasure P of Pretty Ricky battle at 9 p.m. ET or watch CNN host-comedian W. Kamau Bell and Pastor Michael McBride host a joint IG live session on Bell’s page to launch the campaign Masks for the People (9 p.m. ET). Featuring gospel star Erica Campbell, #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Alicia Garza and others, the event is aimed at the black and brown communities, which are the most frequently underserved when it comes to health care. And in light of the postponement of The Roots Picnic, the band announced Monday that it will begin presenting custom content from its production company Two One Five Entertainment in partnership with Live Nation Urban on The Roots YouTube Channel.
“There’s a sense of peace and comfort in doing this,” says Anthony Hamilton, who’s hosted two live sessions from his North Carolina home. The first, #TogetherAtHome (March 22), attracted more than 75,000 viewers and was done in partnership with Global Citizen and the World Health Organization. The following Sunday (March 29), Hamilton’s Soulful Sundays acoustic performance featured the singer-songwriter taking fan requests and partnering with the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.
To the delight of fans online, Hamilton shared that he’s signed a new deal between his My Music Box label and BMG. His first single is “Back Together,” which samples Rick James’ “Fire & Desire.”
“It’s all about bringing people to a different place to remember when things were good,” adds Hamilton of the livestream explosion. But he notes with a laugh that getting into the performance spirit now comes with an added routine. Like cooking butter rice, turkey chops and gravy for his three sons beforehand “so they wouldn’t come down and interrupt the performance.”
Speaking of children, Anderson .Paak is helping parents keep their young ones busy with his inaugural coloring contest #PaintWithPaak, which kicked off March 27. Every Friday, he is making a new sketch available at the @paakhouse Instagram bio link. Then during the coming week, .Paak reveals some of his favorite posts.
One of the earliest artists to enter into the IG Live concert arena was Swae Lee. His March 21 show with DJ T-Jizzle brought in 250,000 viewers. DJ D-Nice got the livestream ball really rolling in mid-March with his star-studded Club Quarantine marathon spin session on Instagram (one session lasted nine hours and drew 100,000+ viewers). A March 25 follow-up party co-hosted by him and former first lady Michelle Obama registered nearly 13,000 new voters.
Two days later, LiveXLive Media adapted its LiveXLive Presents flagship format into a living room series inaugurated by a Tinashe performance featuring songs she’d never performed before. Then on March 31, Drake dropped by Tory Lanez’s Quarantine Radio IG Live show and drew an audience to the tune of 315,000.
Swizz Beatz & Timbaland’s Verzuz online beat battle series has been drawing a rapt, star-filled audience since its March 27 arrival. The pair initially squared off against each other before presenting friendly face-offs pairing their artist, producer and songwriter peers. Battles between Hit-Boy and Boi-1da, The-Dream and Sean Garrett, Ne-Yo and Johnta Austin and Scott Storch and Mannie Fresh have burned up the wires over the last couple of weeks.
This past weekend, T-Pain and Lil Jon’s rollicking Verzuz episode unearthed tasty unreleased material: T-Pain and Chris Brown on a song called “Wake Up Dead” and Lil Jon reuniting with “Yeah!” co-stars Usher and Ludacris on a collaboration reportedly written by Jermaine Dupri two years ago. A highly anticipated match between Teddy Riley (who hosted his own live stream on April 2) and Babyface/L.A. Reid was slated for Sunday but was postponed. In the meantime, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland are busy ramping up Verzuz: Ladies Edition.
Hamilton, back Sunday with a tribute to Bill Withers and again Monday evening (7 p.m. ET) chatting with Culture Creators founder Joi Brown, notes that such fan-engaging and support-raising events are important in helping everyone stay healthy not only physically but spiritually and mentally as well. “It’s important that we take this time to reset and redirect our intentions,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to live.”