Quarantine Diaries: Russell Taylor Is Listening To Teddy Pendergrass & Watching "Westworld"

Russell Taylor


Quarantine Diaries: Russell Taylor Is Listening To Teddy Pendergrass & Watching "Westworld"

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/May 4, 2020 - 11:09 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, R&B singer Russell Taylor—whose new single and video, "Come Morning," is out now—shares his Quarantine Diary

In mid-March all my work started shutting down—first the studio, then the home collaborative sessions, then the lunch meetings for future business and East Coast spring tour got postponed. Full work stop. As I sulked my way through acceptance, I scrolled through some of my unreleased "maybe" songs (I've been recording new material for about eight months now for a new project) and come morning crashed into my spirit. I wanted to release it now because it sounds like "connection" to me. I need connection. We need connection, especially right now. I immediately got to work with production edits in Los Angeles, mixing in Atlanta and mastering in Charlotte. And then via a chat with filmmaker Dominga Martin, we came up with a video treatment that would bring 30 Instagram strangers together into one piece of art while being in different cities—countries even. I am not sulking anymore. This is what art is meant to do; artists are meant to draw folks out of the grey.  

[9:30 a.m.] The alarm knocks me hard in the head. I was up until 4 a.m. doing edits on the video "Come Morning" with Dominga. I open the curtains and let in the sun. Usually I check emails and texts, the news and then Instagram right away. But since Quarantine 2020, I am part of a 21-day meditation group with time deadlines. I focus on nothing but sunlight, quiet and an uninterrupted mind for meditation. Next step is my Treasure Map—it's basically a vision board but in picture book form. Then a cup of strong coffee, some fresh green juice with turmeric and collagen while texting and emailing. 

[11:30 a.m.] I have my first conference call with Dominga to review final video edits and promo clips. Next I have a call with my publicist Ra-Fael for song and video placement pitches. I think to myself, "Self, what were you thinking? All this during quarantine?" [Insert internal judgy head shake.] 

Back to emailing, texting and calling everyone I know to tell them about the new record. Coffee-fueled frenetic actions ensue. LOL. 

[2 p.m.] It’s lunch time. I’m making egg salad with fresh celery and capers, some homemade Sorrel on ice. I turn on the news and check the updates for the day though I know I shouldn’t because of the stress of it all, but I just can't help it. Trump is on. MUTE! 

I check TikTok. I just joined and I want to see if anyone has followed me or my measly four posts yet. Note to self: Damn, these people are good. I gotta step up my lipsync skill set! I must practice TikTok.

[3 p.m.] Time to switch gears and put on a T-shirt and cap. I have not had a professional haircut or beard trim for six weeks now. A hat is essential business attire! I wash my face (did I remember to brush my teeth?). I brush
them again (probably for the first time), wash my face, moisturize, brush my beard, throw on a cap. I'm off to Instagram Live for a guest spot on Trina’s (from TvOne's "Sister Circle") at 4 p.m. to discuss the release of the new song and the video. It ends up being 30 minutes because of the jokes and laughs. We all needed it. Thank God for laughs.

[5 p.m.] Time to get some exercise! I need more coffee. I forgo the yoga/resistance band station I have set up as part of a COVID-19 exercise challenge and decide to take the bike out for some fresh air. 50 feet into the ride, the back tire explodes. Have I eaten that much??? Note to self: STOP EATING EVERYTHING.  

OK, the bike is out of play. Instead, I walk just over five miles, and though it starts to rain, I don’t rush home. It’s just rain, I won't melt, and somehow it's even more relaxing. I switch from listening to Teddy Pendergrass' greatest hits to listening to my own rainy day playlist. No stress, just be. Wait—I hear another one of my "maybe" songs, but it is only half done. This could be the next quarantine jam. Note to self: make a  note to revisit. You make a lot of notes.

[7:30 p.m.] I take a hot shower. I am having leftovers for dinner—shrimp and veggie stir fry. A nice glass of my favorite CocoBon wine while I get caught up on HBO's "Westworld." I have another glass of wine. Let’s make a post on Instagram. Operation rabbit hole initiated. 

[11 p.m.] I must have fallen asleep..."Westworld" is watching me. Get into bed. I call my father to chat about his day and make sure he is feeling OK and taking his temperature at least every other day. I read a bit of Children Of Blood And Bone and it hits me that I didn’t set up my mic today. I didn’t write a thing, I didn’t sing a thing. I did work on music stuff all day, but I didn’t "create" anything. I wanna create more things. OK. Note to self: I gotta make time tomorrow for something creative...For me. Maybe I’ll finish that song from the rainy walk or even start a new one. Or I could paint something. I always wanted to paint. Or I could make a cake. Maybe I should make a cake now. Should I google making a cake. Wait. Stop eating everything. 

Ok, I might need a melatonin tab; let me go to sleep :)

If you wish to support our efforts to assist music professionals in need, learn more about the Recording Academy's and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.

If you are a member of the music industry in need of assistance, visit the MusiCares website.

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.

Watch: J.I.D Talks Lollapalooza Debut, Working With J. Cole & Dreamville, New Music & More

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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Houseparty’s "In The House": Katy Perry, John Legend, Alicia Keys + More

Katy Perry

Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images


Houseparty’s "In The House": Katy Perry, John Legend, Alicia Keys + More

The three-day livestream event taking place this weekend (May 15-17) will allow users to view performances and segments while chatting with friends in realtime

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2020 - 12:46 am

Houseparty, the face-to-face social video app, is bringing a star-studded lineup of performances, workouts and cooking lessons to its users, including appearances by Katy Perry, John Legend, Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys and more than 40 other celebrities. The event, "In The House," will take place over the course of three days, beginning this weekend on Friday, May 15 and running through Sunday, May 17.

Per Rolling Stone, the event’s programming will see a live performance of Perry’s unreleased track “Daisies,” slated to be released on Friday, May 15, in addition to sets by Legend, Chvrches and others. The program will also feature special cooking lessons on unique recipes provided by Snoop Dogg, 2 Chainz and Zooey Deschanel. Alicia Keys will also host a karaoke session and lead a 30 minute at-home workout. The full lineup and event schedule are available here.

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The three-day event will allow those who tune in to enjoy free performances from the comfort of their homes, and they’ll be able to chat and interact with friends via the app all in real time. In a statement to Variety discussing the program, Houseparty CEO and co-founder Sima Sistani said “We are bringing back appointment viewing… to capture that feeling of sitting on the couch for that special show with your family or friends on a Friday night.”

Houseparty is available to download for free on iOS and Android devices, as well as online where users can tune in to stream the live event. Each segment will air again 12 hours following its original stream for those who may have missed the original broadcasts.

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