Quarantine Diaries: Electro-Pop Virtuoso Lou Canon Is Watching 'You've Got Mail' & Waving To Her Nephew From The Window

Lou Canon

Photo by Rebecca Wood


Quarantine Diaries: Electro-Pop Virtuoso Lou Canon Is Watching 'You've Got Mail' & Waving To Her Nephew From The Window

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors

GRAMMYs/Mar 27, 2020 - 08:07 pm

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, electro-pop performer Lou Canon, who drops her latest LP, Audomatic Body, on May 29, shares her Quarantine Diary.

Today is Monday, March 23. Life is shifting dramatically from moment to moment. Independently and collectively, we are holding this prickly, anxious feeling. 

I, like many others, am trying my best to remain positive. To function in this fragile emotional state. To mute my racing brain. The smallest gestures from a friend or even a stranger are so powerful, so meaningful, so moving. Every other moment I’m brought to tears. I’m trying my best to give support to the people around me. Everyone has been hit so hard, in their own way.

I’m learning to get more comfortable with these everyday anxieties. Slowly processing what all this means. Managing an anticipatory grief when everything around us feels so uncertain.

On this very day, in an alternate universe immune to viruses and pandemics, I was to be in transit from SXSW, on route to the Russian River, north of San Francisco, to film a music video. I would have been recovering from a wild ride in Austin: performances on the fly, late nights, new faces, all of the unexpected wonders that this festival brings. California was carefully prepared—a troop of dancers, extras, state park permits, wardrobe.

And then we all fell ill. Travel from Canada to America became impossible. Plans, excitement, money all infected with insecurity.

Photo by Rebecca Wood

Today had the most unusual start. 

I was sipping my morning cup of tea, when my husband pointed out a beautiful red cardinal sitting at the window. I jumped up to see and then fell to my knees.

I've thrown out my back. For the first time in my life. It seized up, strangled me. I was frozen in one position, unable to move, hardly able to breathe. Perhaps it’s my body translating grief into physical pain. Or it’s from the eight hours of disinfecting I did the day before. Maybe I am reacting to the discomfort of all the loved ones around me. All the people in my community. Friends and family losing small business, the elderly barely able to get what they need off the shelves at the grocery store, citizens struggling to pay the bills and put food on their tables. All the hardships around the world. Overload.

I’m glued to the couch, looking up at this view. I am fortunate to have a family cottage that normally serves as an escape from city life, but now is a refuge from socialization.

I’m still stuck on the couch. Barely able to move. And I realize there was this journal I’ve been meaning to get to all weekend. But life gets in the way. Saturday, I spent the day at my sister's restaurant. She closed her doors for the first time in 17 years. To wait it out and see. My husband and I went to clear out perishables and bits and bobs; canning, cooking, finding homes for food before it goes to waste.

I turn on a bad rom-com, "You've Got Mail." It plays silently as I write. This is an odd week. My partner is home from work at the hospital. I had convinced him moons ago to take this week off. To help feed the video crew in the Russian River. Instead, we are alone, pickling peppers, freezing tomato sauce and stockpiling booze in anticipation of what’s to come. There are constant conference calls: his hospital discusses the five layers of backup; this person covers this person covers this person and so on. No more visitors allowed for patients. Temperature testing at the entrances. Everything is changing. Being here in the quiet feels like an eerie calm before the storm. 

I hear a horn blaring as a car comes slowly crawling down our long driveway. My nephew’s little five-year-old body is perched out of the sunroof. He’s holding a sign he made with his sister. She is squealing with joy and waving from the back seat. We shout to each other through distant windows. Cry. Laugh. And then they drive off. I took a photo that might well be my favorite of 2020.

It's extremely uncomfortable to prepare for an album release during this time [Lou's sophomore album, Audomatic Body, arrives on May 29 via Paper Bag Records]. I’ve spent the last couple years working away, leading up to this moment. Work I should feel excited to share. But it feels indulgent to turn the spotlight onto myself. To ask people to listen, to make space for me, for my work. But art must go on; life must go on. I can only hope somehow it brings some comfort to others.

The Austin performances can wait. The video idea has morphed into an online, user-generated collaboration. Friends, fans, strangers submitting recorded snippets. It’s intimate and inspirational. Honouring a time when we’re isolated and alone, but somehow more together than ever.

It’s in these really tough times when everyday life grounds to a halt ... that we recognize the pieces that matter most. It’s all the things that remain the same during these wild days that will get us through. Our compassion, our strength as a community, our belief in family, our nurturing friendships, our appreciation for nature and art, our ability to be playful. All these values hold us in place as we take it one day at a time.

So stay home, and take good care.

See you on the other side of this.

Can’t wait. 

Xx Lou

p.s. Until then...

Photo by Rebecca Wood

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Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More



Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.

"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.

Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.

"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."

Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American. 

"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."

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Jay-Z And Meek Mill's REFORM Donates Surgical Masks To Vulnerable Prison Population

Meek Mill

Photo: Brian Stukes/Getty Images


Jay-Z And Meek Mill's REFORM Donates Surgical Masks To Vulnerable Prison Population

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says correctional facilities are particularly vulnerable places for COVID-19 to spread

GRAMMYs/Apr 7, 2020 - 05:01 am

Jay-Z and Meek Mill's criminal justice reform organization REFORM has donated roughly 100,000 surgical masks to correctional facilities including in the states of New York, Tennessee and Mississippi.

The organization said it donated 50,000 masks to New York City's Rikers Island Correctional Facility, 40,000 masks to the Tennessee Department of Correction and 5,000 to Mississippi State Penitentiary. Spin reports that an additional 2,500 masks were sent to a Rikers medical facility. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says correctional facilities are particularly vulnerable places for COVID-19 to spread.  

"Incarcerated/detained persons live, work, eat, study, and recreate within congregate environments, heightening the potential for COVID-19 to spread once introduced," according to the CDC. Other vulnerabilities include the fact that incarcerated people, for the most part, can't leave and, depending on the size of the facility, space for someone to medically isolate could be limited.

"We need to protect vulnerable people behind bars & GET THEM OUT!" REFORM said in a tweet. The organization sees this as a threat to public health and said on its website that it is working with experts and advocates "to develop a set of common-sense recommendations that would make us all SAFER."

They also announced on Twitter that they helped the South Carolina Department of Corrections locate 36,000 masks for their population. 

Across the nation, COVID-19 cases have been popping up in correctional facilities, including North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee

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Quarantine Diaries: ARI Is Cuddling With Her Cat, Making Her Own Tea & Preparing For Her Debut 'IDIOT GRL' EP Release


Photo: Nicole Davis


Quarantine Diaries: ARI Is Cuddling With Her Cat, Making Her Own Tea & Preparing For Her Debut 'IDIOT GRL' EP Release

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors

GRAMMYs/Aug 12, 2020 - 02:59 am

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, rising singer/songwriter ARI shares her quarantine diary. ARI's debut IDIOT GRL EP is out Aug. 14.

[9:40 a.m.] A late start to the day. I just woke up to my cat Malakai licking my face and snuggling under my chin, desperate for cuddles. I reluctantly gave in before diving into my morning routine, which starts by going through all of the daily news on my Snapchat feed to see what’s going on in the world.

[11 a.m.] Just out of the shower and into the kitchen for the usual: tea and avocado toast. I don’t typically like tea or coffee, but I had this amazing tea from Starbucks once and fell in love with it. I ended up finding the recipe and making it myself, and to be honest, I like my version better. Once I boil the kettle, I start part two of my morning “meditation”: watching one of my favourite shows while I respond to emails. With the IDIOT GRL EP coming out next week, I can tell you there are a TON of emails. I turned on "Gilmore Girls" (my guilty pleasure) and opened up my laptop to go through my calendar.

[1:45 p.m.] Recording session time. Zoom calls have become my everyday life. It’s crazy to think that this time last year, you could actually be in a room with people. Now the most social interaction I get is virtually. On the positive side, I get to set up my little home studio from the comfort of my own bed and I find the sessions to be really productive with no outside distractions.

[3:30 p.m.] Malakai is meowing at my door. As I try to sing over him, eventually I can’t ignore his cute little voice. We take a quick break and I have a little playtime with him. I can hear my song playing in the living room—it still weirds me out hearing myself. My guess is my roommate aka my manager is sending off final approval for the “IDIOT GRL” music video, which comes out the same day as the EP. Super excited for everyone to finally see it!

[6:00 p.m.] Time for dinner. It may just be my favourite part of the day. During my session, my roommate cooked us some delicious pasta. We eat dinner together every night, which is really nice. Usually, after dinner, we wind down and watch TV, but we decided to try doing an arts and crafts project tonight. I watched this TikTok video of a DIY way to make music plaques. You take a screenshot of a song on Spotify and use a marker to trace out the name of the song, artist, play button, etc. Once that’s done, you simply add the album artwork of your choice, frame it, and voila! I thought it would be a cool idea to make a wall of each of the songs off of my EP.

[9:00 p.m.] After an eventful day, I decided to go watch a drive-in Maple Leafs game (wearing a mask, of course). My sister works for the TSN network and started hosting drive-in game nights to promote the network and social distancing events. I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest hockey fan, but I’ll never pass up an opportunity to spend time with my family.

[11:30 p.m.] I finally get home and hop straight into bed. I feel like I haven’t spent much time on Instagram today, so figured I’d open it up before getting some shuteye. I launched the pre-save link for the EP today and told my followers that I would DM anyone who pre-saved it and sent me a screenshot. I always love getting to interact with my fans and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to see how excited people are for my debut EP. It’s a great feeling to end the day with.

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Dreamville Festival 2020 Is Officially Canceled Due To COVID-19

J. Cole

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images


Dreamville Festival 2020 Is Officially Canceled Due To COVID-19

The second annual music festival from J. Cole's Dreamville Records squad and friends was first postponed from April until August, and will now have to wait until 2021

GRAMMYs/May 19, 2020 - 02:27 am

Dreamville Festival has announced they are canceling their 2020 event due to public safety concerns caused by coronavirus. The second annual edition of the one-day music fest, hosted by J. Cole and his talent-filled Dreamville Records, was originally slated to take place on April 6 at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh, N.C., but was rescheduled to Aug. 29 after the pandemic struck the U.S.

Like countless other events that were set to take place this year, it will now have to wait until 2021. Dreamville says all 2020 ticket holders will be receive refunds soon.

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"After much deliberation and careful monitoring of the current situation, we have decided to cancel Dreamville Festival 2020. Although we originally hoped it would be possible to bring you the festival this August, the ongoing uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic has made this timeline no longer possible. This decision has been extremely difficult to make, but the safety of our fans, artists, and staff is always our top priority, and nothing will ever take precedence over your well-being," the organizers wrote in a statement shared across their social channels and on the fest's website.

The message also shared details on refunds, noting that all tickets purchased online will automatically be refunded to the original payment method, beginning this week. Fans who bought physical tickets from official points of purchase can request a refund here.

"Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this. Please stay safe, healthy, and sane so we can reunite with you in 2021," the statement added.

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According to Pitchfork, the debut Dreamville fest also faced unforeseen setbacks; it was originally set for Sept. 15, 2018 at Dorothea Dix Park but was pushed to April 6, 2019, due to Hurricane Florence. The 2019 event featured performances from Dreamville head Cole and labelmates J.I.D, BAS and Ari Lennox, as well as SZA, Big Sean, 21 Savage, 6LACK, Rapsody, Nelly and other heavy-hitters in hip-hop and R&B.

No artists have been revealed yet for the second edition of the fest.

The Dreamville squad earned their first two collective GRAMMY nominations at the most recent 62nd GRAMMY Awards; for Best Rap Album for the collaborative Revenge Of The Dreamers III and Best Rap Performance for one of its singles, "Down Bad." Cole earned a total of five nods, including for his work on that project, and took him his first GRAMMY win for his feature on 21 Savage's "A Lot."

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