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Resources For Music Creators & Professionals Affected By COVID-19: East Region
The Recording Academy's Illinois, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. chapters are committed to sharing resources for music creators and professionals affected by the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic
In the current coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, music creators and many of the professionals who support them have been greatly affected. The Recording Academy’s Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. chapters are committed to creating, amplifying, and sharing resources that will provide some form of comfort.
While The Academy’s MusiCares has set up a COVID-19 Relief Fund available as a safety net for music creators in need, below you will find resources available to those in the music community who live within states that make up the Academy’s East Region. Please visit regularly for updates.
Arts Council of Indianapolis COVID-19 Impact Survey for Individual Artists
The Arts Council is collecting data about the known and anticipated impacts of COVID-19 on arts organizations and individual artists. The data provided will be used to help inform future emergency relief efforts including funding, services, and support.
Indy Service Worker VENMO Listing
Donate directly to Indianapolis area servers, bartenders, bar backs, front of house restaurant workers, cooks, dishwashers, delivery personnel, and security guards who have been impacted by COVID-19 related closures of music venues, bars and restaurants.
Arts for Illinois Relief Fund
The Arts for Illinois Relief Fund provides financial relief to workers and organizations in the creative industries impacted by COVID-19. This includes all artists and artisans, including stage and production members and part-time cultural workers, and large to small arts organizations in all disciplines. Donations to the fund will go directly to artists and arts organizations throughout Illinois. All donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Individuals are encouraged to apply for one-time grants of $1,500, which are awarded expediently and based on a lottery system. Arts organizations grants are likewise based on a combination of need and lost revenue from the crisis.
Chicago Service Relief
A directory of fundraisers for Chicago bars, venues and restaurants that can use our help to support their staff during the state-mandated shutdown.
Chicago Artists Relief Fund
This fund was created by Chicago-area artists in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their aim is to support persons in the greater Chicago arts community who are experiencing financial repercussions due to pandemic-related cancellations. Priority will be given to BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] artists, transgender & non-binary and queer artists, and disabled artists. However, the fund aims to help as many Chicago-area artists in need as possible.
Pay the Musicians
Chicago Blues Revival has created this website that houses links to live performances by some of Chicago’s great blues musicians. The goal is that fans listen and enjoy, then, take the money that they would spend on going out to see that concert, and give it directly to the musicians. Paypal IDs for the lead musicians and supporting musicians are listed.
3Arts Emergency Resources
Digital index of COVID-19 relief resources for Chicago area artists
COVID-19 Resources for Theatre Artists in Chicago
The Chicago Artist Guide has created a list of funds, online mental/health and wellness outlets, volunteer opportunities and locations offering free food available to those negatively impacted by COVID-19.
The Dancers’ Fund
Chicago Dancers United’s dancers’ fund provides short-term financial assistance to Chicago dance professionals in times of critical health need.
League of Chicago Theatres – Chicago Theatre Workers Relief Fund
The League of Chicago Theatres has developed a Chicago Theatre Workers Relief Fund. This Fund is available to Chicago area theatre professionals who have had to stop work and are not getting paid---including those who were on contract, part-time employees and those working on a stipend that was not paid--- due to COVID-19. Grants of up to $500 are available on a first-come-first-served basis.
New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund
Led by NJ’s First Lady Tammy Murphy, the state has established the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund to collect donations and distribute funds. One hundred percent of donations received online by NJPRF will be used to fight the medical, social, and economic impact of COVID-19 on New Jersey’s most vulnerable, supporting organizations that provide essential services and aiding those on the front line of the pandemic. Popular New Jerseyans Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Whoopi Goldberg, Danny DeVito, Carli Lloyd, and Charlie Puth are actively endorsing the fund and soliciting donations.
Boston Artist Relief Fund
In partnership with the Boston Center for the Arts, the City of Boston has established an artist relief fund that will award grants of $500 and $1,000 to individual artists living in Boston whose “creative practices and incomes” are being negatively affected by the pandemic. Priority will be given to lower-income artists as well as those who have not received funds from city-led grants during the current fiscal year.
Boston Music Maker Relief Fund
The Record Co. has established a fund to provide financial relief to music makers living in Boston who have lost revenue due to gig cancellations over the coronavirus. Grants of up to $200 will be made available to applicants who meet the criteria.
Boston Singers’ Resource COVID-19 Emergency Relief
The career services nonprofit is offering one-time grants of up to $500 for New England-based classical singers who have lost income due to coronavirus-related cancellations. The deadline for the first round of grants is April 1.
Twin Cities Music Community Trust Entertainment Industry Relief Fund
The widespread cancellation of group events has a disproportionate impact on the music and event industry workforce and local musicians—individuals who rely on gigs to pay their bills. All funds donated will directly impact someone who has lost a gig due to COVID-19 and its effect on the industry. This includes night staff, door staff, bartenders, security, stage crews, tour managers, merchandise sellers, photographers, local musicians and more.
Springboard for the Arts Personal Emergency Relief Fund
Nonprofit Springboard for the Arts has committed an additional $10,000 to its emergency fund and expanded guidelines to include lost income due to coronavirus-related gig cancellations. Artists based in Minnesota can request up to $500 to compensate for canceled work that was scheduled and lost.
The Detroit I Love Artist Fund
The Detroit I Love was created as a platform to promote the music and arts community in Detroit. In an effort to offer financial assistance to the local DJs and musicians, this fund will pay out $100 per artist on a first come basis.
City of Detroit Resources for Artists
The Detroit Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship has compiled a list of resources for artists and entertainers affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
Michigan Music Relief Fund
Established by the Michigan Music Alliance, this fund will plan to disperse funds raised to members of the Michigan music community.
Musicians’ Assistance Program (MAP)
The Musicians’ Assistance Program (MAP) provides support so that Local 802 members can perform with the highest artistry and productivity while minimizing any interruption to their work. This service is provided by Local 802 for its members and their families and is administered and professionally staffed by The Actors Fund. All of MAP’s services are strictly confidential and are free of charge.
Local 802 Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund
ERF is a non-profit charitable organization that provides financial assistance and support services to musicians in need and is run through the Local 802 Musicians Assistance Program administered by the Actor’s Fund. ERF assistance is provided in the form of a direct grant to the musician’s service provider. For example, the funds are sent directly to physicians, landlords, and counselors.
Max’s Kansas City Project
Max’s Kansas City Project provides emergency funding and resources to professionals in the creative arts. Individuals who have made their living through their art form either professionally or personally and demonstrate a financial need for medical aid, legal aid or housing can apply for assistance.
Musicians’ Foundation Aid
Musicians Foundation is formed to foster the interests and advance the condition and social welfare of professional musicians and to provide voluntary aid and assistance to professional musicians and their families in case of need.
NYC Covid-19 Musician Resources and Support
This Facebook community group is a hub for sharing ideas, financial tips and resources for New York City area music creators
Rauschenberg Emergency Grants Program
New York Foundation for The Arts has partnered with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation to administer a new emergency grant program that will provide one-time grants of up to $5,000 for medical emergencies. The grants are available to visual and media artists and choreographers who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents in the United States, District of Columbia, or U.S. Territories.
Dramatist Guild Foundation
It is vital to support writers in times of need so that they can get back to doing what they do best. DGF provides emergency financial assistance to individual playwrights, composers, lyricists, and book writers in dire need of funds due to severe hardship or unexpected illness.
Lost My Gig NYC
This site keeps a running list of NYC freelancers working in the events industry who are in need of financial assistance due to the crisis, allowing people to donate directly to those individuals through their Venmo, CashApp and Paypal accounts. Apply to have your name added.
NYC Low-Income Artist/Freelancer Relief Fund
as of March 18, this fund has raised more than $36,000 for NYC-based low-income, BIPOC, Trans, gender non-conforming, non-binary and queer artists and freelancers whose livelihoods are being effected by the pandemic. Update: In order to meet demand, the fund has temporarily paused applications for funding. Those who have already applied will be informed about fund distribution by March 20.
New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment
The MOME website offers information and services including a survey for nightlife workers, freelancers and businesses impacted by COVID-19; and a link to Small Business Services, which is offering assistance and guidance for local businesses.
Columbus Artists Relief Fund
The Columbus Artists Relief Fund is raising money to help offset the financial impact felt by Columbus artists through lost work. This is open to individual artists in central Ohio. Priority will be given to artists who are black, indigenous or people of color, transgender or non-binary or disabled, but the goal is to try to help as many artists with need in the greater Columbus-area as possible.
City of Philadelphia Mental & Physical Health Updates
Text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates to your phone. Call our helpline 24/7 to speak with a health care professional: 1-800-722-7112.
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
Map of all locations offering food resources to adult aged persons in the city of Philadelphia
Equal Sound Corona Relief Fund
If you are a musician who has lost income due to a canceled gig as a result of the Coronavirus / Covid-19 outbreak, you are eligible for funds. Disbursements will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.
PENNSYLVANIA MUSIC EDUCATORS ASSOCIATION
The Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) is a statewide nonprofit organization of over 4,500 members, dedicated to promoting the musical development of all Pennsylvanians. To support local music educators who might be in need, the association is extending resources.
#HomeMadeMusic Online Concert Program
The Morning Call’s GO Guide is introducing a new Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania music spotlight. As Coronavirus control measures have forced entertainment venues to cancel countless regional shows, musicians and audience members have been unfortunately cut off from each other. This program is hoping to change that. If you’re a Lehigh Valley musicians/singer-songwriters, play and record a song to post on Twitter with the tags #HomeMadeMusic and @GOGuideLV.
Philadelphia Performing Artists' Emergency Fund Application
The Philadelphia Performing Artists' Emergency Fund was created amid the COVID-19 outbreak to assist performing artists whose income has been impacted by show cancellations, slowing ticket sales, and/or low turnout during this pandemic. We are coming together as a community to lift each other up, and ensure we all make it through this together. Emergency Funds can be requested by any Cabaret, Drag, Burlesque, Theater, or performance artists facing a financial hardship caused by COVID-19.
30Amp Circuit COVID-19 Relief Fund
This fund will help local Philadelphia artists and musicians with $1000 cost of living grants
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
If you are out of work without pay, you are eligible to receive food sourced from the state and federal government from a food bank or food pantry in Pennsylvania. This includes service workers who are unable to get shifts or hourly wage employees of non-essential businesses that have voluntarily closed due to COVID-19 mitigation.
PGH Artists Emergency Fund
This fundraiser is hosted by a group of artists and community organizers based in Pittsburgh responding to the urgent need of our friends and community who have been put in compromised positions due to the cancellation of entire tours, all of their gigs, and jobs in the nightlife and events industry. The fund provides payments of up to $250 per artist, to help abet the costs due to canceled gigs and jobs. This can go towards helping people pay their rent, pay their bills, purchase food and other essentials.
PHL COVID-19 FUND
The PHL COVID-19 Fund will provide grants to Greater Philadelphia organizations with a successful track record of serving at-risk populations such as the seniors, people with disabilities, and those who are experiencing homeless or are economically disadvantaged, in order to continue community safety nets such as food pantries and health services, and help with preparedness and protection such as hygiene supplies, access to accurate current information, and available services.
Pittsburgh Arts Council Emergency Fund for Artists
The Emergency Fund for Artists will now provide up to $500 in assistance to artists in the Greater Pittsburgh area experiencing loss of income due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Emergency Fund also remains available for other unforeseen emergencies that may impact your ability to work, such as flood, theft, or fire.
Washington, D.C.’s DC Act 23-247
Recently passed by the D.C. council, this legislation provides that nonprofits and self-employed individuals not eligible for unemployment compensation could apply to the Mayor for a grant if they suffer “financial distress caused by a reduction in business revenue due to the circumstances giving rise to or resulting from the public health emergency.” Grant money could be used to continue employee wages and benefits, pay operating costs (including taxes and debt service) or repay loans obtained through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Independent contractors and self-employed individuals could use the grants to continue to pay themselves for revenue lost as a result of theatre shutdowns due to the coronavirus."
United Way of the National Capital Area
If you or someone you know needs emergency assistance, contact 2-1-1. 2-1-1 is a non-emergency telephone number. This free service helps individuals and families access emergency services in their local community. Specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Jose Andres Community Kitchens
In response to the increased risk of the COVID-19 coronavirus and to help encourage social distancing to stop its spread, all Jose Andres owned restaurants in the Washington, D.C., and New York City areas are temporarily closed. However, the company has repurposed most of them as “community kitchens” with affordable plates of the day available for takeout purchase.
Free Meals for Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia Kids
Several meal sites have been announced in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, where students who rely on school lunches can receive food while schools are closed during the coronavirus crisis.
Maryland Extension of Business Tax Filing Deadlines
The Comptroller of Maryland has extended business tax filing deadlines to June 1 for some businesses with March, April and May due dates.
Mutual Aid Project
The D.C.-based arts platform and network is assisting black and non-white Trans and gender-expansive artists by offering a “voluntary exchange of services and resources.” With musicians and other artists continuing to lose gigs during the pandemic, the organization is building an artist directory to showcase the work of those affected. Once the directory is complete, the organization will extend a "call to action" to the larger community for support.
Live Nation has committed $10 million to Crew Nation – contributing an initial $5 million to the fund, then matching the next $5 million given by artists, fans and employees dollar for dollar. Crew Nation is powered by Music Forward Foundation, a charitable 501c3 organization that will be administering the fund.
NEW MUSIC SOLIDARITY FUND
The New Music Solidarity Fund is designed to help new/creative/improvised music freelancers whose livelihood has been threatened as a result of performances which have been canceled during the COVID-19 crisis.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Disaster Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration notes small business owners in the following designated states are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19): California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington.
Creative Capital’s List of Arts Resources During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Creative Capital has created a list of resources for artists working in all disciplines, as well as arts philanthropists, and arts professionals.
Foundation for the Contemporary Arts Emergency Fund
The Foundation for Contemporary Arts has created a temporary fund to meet the needs of artists who have been impacted by the economic fallout from postponed or canceled performances and exhibitions. For as long as the foundation’s Board of Directors determines it is necessary and prudent to do so, the Foundation will disburse $1,000 grants to artists who have had performances or exhibitions canceled or postponed because of the COVID-19 virus.
Jazz Foundation of America
The Jazz Foundation’s Musicians’ Emergency Fund provides housing assistance, pro bono medical care, disaster relief and direct financial support in times of crisis.
Rauschenberg Emergency Grants Program
New York Foundation for The Arts has partnered with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation to administer a new emergency grant program that will provide one-time grants of up to $5,000 for medical emergencies. The grants are available to visual and media artists and choreographers who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents in the United States, District of Columbia, or U.S. Territories.
SAG-AFTRA Foundation COVID-19 DISASTER FUND
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation and the SAG-AFTRA Motion Picture Players Welfare Fund (MPPWF) have created the COVID-19 Disaster Fund that is now available to eligible SAG-AFTRA members who have been impacted by this pandemic.
Sound Girls, an organization that supports women working in professional audio and music production, is compiling a list of resources to utilize during this forced downtime and unemployment. From best business practices, career development, continuing education, and side hustles to get you through this trying time.
Sweet Relief Musicians Fund
Sweet Relief Musicians Fund provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians and music industry workers who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.
Resources for Writers in the Time of Coronavirus
As writers, teachers, publishers, and booksellers in local, national, and international communities “grapple with how to proceed in their creative, financial, professional, and personal lives during this time of uncertainty,” POETS & WRITERS has compiled a list of resources.
Queer Writers of Color Relief Fund
Started by Luther Hughes, founder of Shade Literary Arts, this relief fund seeks to “help at least 100 queer writers of color who have been financially impacted by the current COVID-19. Priority will be given to queer Trans women, and queer disabled writers of color. The minimum disbursement is $100, and the maximum is $500.
The New Music Solidarity Fund
This fund is an artist-led initiative that aims to grant emergency funding to musicians impacted by COVID-19. The Fund has raised over $130,000, primarily from fellow musicians, composers, and music professionals. At least two hundred and sixty, $500 emergency assistance grants will be made available to applicants who meet the criteria.
American Guild of Musical Artists Relief Fund
Any AGMA member in good standing is invited to apply for financial assistance under the AGMA Relief Fund, which has temporarily doubled the amount of assistance available to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
AudioAssemble.com Online Resources For Musicians< br / > The website has compiled a list of online remote opportunities that are available for U.S.-based musicians during the COVID-19 outbreak. Their financial resources page has short-term and long-term job opportunities, as well as governmental resources to help musicians generate revenue.
Coronavirus: Resources for Property Owners
National Association of Realtors has compiled an online hub of resources for property owners impacted by the global pandemic
The Creator Fund
The fund covers up to $500 per creator to help cover medical, childcare, housing or grocery needs.
Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Mortgage Help for Homeowners Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) and the Federal Home Loan Banks are taking steps to help people who have been impacted by the coronavirus. If your ability to pay your mortgage is impacted, and your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may be eligible to delay making your monthly mortgage payments for a temporary period
The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks secures and distributes 4.3 billion meals each year through food pantries and meal programs throughout the United States and leads the nation to engage in the fight against hunger.
HART Fund (Handy Artists Relief Trust)
The Blues foundation’s fund helps underinsured or uninsured blues musicians and their families in financial need due to a range of health concerns.
THE INNER LIGHT CHALLENGE
The Material World Foundation, created by George Harrison in 1973, is today donating $500,000 to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, Save the Children, and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) charities, which are providing much-needed aid and care during this COVID-19 pandemic. For every person that shares their own “Inner Light” moment on social media using the hashtag #innerlight2020, the MWF will give another $1 to help those affected by COVID-19 (up to $100k.)
Harpo Foundation Visual Arts Grant
This grant provides direct support to under-recognized artists 21 years or older. Amount awarded can be up to $10,000. Application deadline is May 1, 2020
Resources For Music Creators & Professionals Affected By COVID-19: West Region
Resources For Music Creators & Professionals Affected By COVID-19: South Region
Recording Academy And MusiCares Establish COVID-19 Relief Fund
Photo: Rachel Kupfer
A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea
James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.
It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.
Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.
Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.
In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.
Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.
There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out GRAMMY.com's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.
Say She She
Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.
While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."
Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.
Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.
Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.
Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.
L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.
During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.
Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.
Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.
Photo: Steven Sebring
Living Legends: Billy Idol On Survival, Revival & Breaking Out Of The Cage
"One foot in the past and one foot into the future," Billy Idol says, describing his decade-spanning career in rock. "We’ve got the best of all possible worlds because that has been the modus operandi of Billy Idol."
Living Legends is a series that spotlights icons in music still going strong today. This week, GRAMMY.com spoke with Billy Idol about his latest EP, Cage, and continuing to rock through decades of changing tastes.
Billy Idol is a true rock 'n' roll survivor who has persevered through cultural shifts and personal struggles. While some may think of Idol solely for "Rebel Yell" and "White Wedding," the singer's musical influences span genres and many of his tunes are less turbo-charged than his '80s hits would belie.
Idol first made a splash in the latter half of the '70s with the British punk band Generation X. In the '80s, he went on to a solo career combining rock, pop, and punk into a distinct sound that transformed him and his musical partner, guitarist Steve Stevens, into icons. They have racked up multiple GRAMMY nominations, in addition to one gold, one double platinum, and four platinum albums thanks to hits like "Cradle Of Love," "Flesh For Fantasy," and "Eyes Without A Face."
But, unlike many legacy artists, Idol is anything but a relic. Billy continues to produce vital Idol music by collaborating with producers and songwriters — including Miley Cyrus — who share his forward-thinking vision. He will play a five-show Vegas residency in November, and filmmaker Jonas Akerlund is working on a documentary about Idol’s life.
His latest release is Cage, the second in a trilogy of annual four-song EPs. The title track is a classic Billy Idol banger expressing the desire to free himself from personal constraints and live a better life. Other tracks on Cage incorporate metallic riffing and funky R&B grooves.
Idol continues to reckon with his demons — they both grappled with addiction during the '80s — and the singer is open about those struggles on the record and the page. (Idol's 2014 memoir Dancing With Myself, details a 1990 motorcycle accident that nearly claimed a leg, and how becoming a father steered him to reject hard drugs. "Bitter Taste," from his last EP, The Roadside, reflects on surviving the accident.)
Although Idol and Stevens split in the late '80s — the skilled guitarist fronted Steve Stevens & The Atomic Playboys, and collaborated with Michael Jackson, Rick Ocasek, Vince Neil, and Harold Faltermeyer (on the GRAMMY-winning "Top Gun Anthem") — their common history and shared musical bond has been undeniable. The duo reunited in 2001 for an episode of "VH1 Storytellers" and have been back in the saddle for two decades. Their union remains one of the strongest collaborations in rock 'n roll history.
While there is recognizable personnel and a distinguishable sound throughout a lot of his work, Billy Idol has always pushed himself to try different things. Idol discusses his musical journey, his desire to constantly move forward, and the strong connection that he shares with Stevens.
Steve has said that you like to mix up a variety of styles, yet everyone assumes you're the "Rebel Yell"/"White Wedding" guy. But if they really listen to your catalog, it's vastly different.
Yeah, that's right. With someone like Steve Stevens, and then back in the day Keith Forsey producing... [Before that] Generation X actually did move around inside punk rock. We didn't stay doing just the Ramones two-minute music. We actually did a seven-minute song. [Laughs]. We did always mix things up.
Then when I got into my solo career, that was the fun of it. With someone like Steve, I knew what he could do. I could see whatever we needed to do, we could nail it. The world was my oyster musically.
"Cage" is a classic-sounding Billy Idol rocker, then "Running From The Ghost" is almost metal, like what the Devil's Playground album was like back in the mid-2000s. "Miss Nobody" comes out of nowhere with this pop/R&B flavor. What inspired that?
We really hadn't done anything like that since something like "Flesh For Fantasy" [which] had a bit of an R&B thing about it. Back in the early days of Billy Idol, "Hot In The City" and "Mony Mony" had girls [singing] on the backgrounds.
We always had a bit of R&B really, so it was actually fun to revisit that. We just hadn't done anything really quite like that for a long time. That was one of the reasons to work with someone like Sam Hollander [for the song "Rita Hayworth"] on The Roadside. We knew we could go [with him] into an R&B world, and he's a great songwriter and producer. That's the fun of music really, trying out these things and seeing if you can make them stick.
I listen to new music by veteran artists and debate that with some people. I'm sure you have those fans that want their nostalgia, and then there are some people who will embrace the newer stuff. Do you find it’s a challenge to reach people with new songs?
Obviously, what we're looking for is, how do we somehow have one foot in the past and one foot into the future? We’ve got the best of all possible worlds because that has been the modus operandi of Billy Idol.
You want to do things that are true to you, and you don't just want to try and do things that you're seeing there in the charts today. I think that we're achieving it with things like "Running From The Ghost" and "Cage" on this new EP. I think we’re managing to do both in a way.
Obviously, "Running From The Ghost" is about addiction, all the stuff that you went through, and in "Cage" you’re talking about freeing yourself from a lot of personal shackles. Was there any one moment in your life that made you really thought I have to not let this weigh me down anymore?
I mean, things like the motorcycle accident I had, that was a bit of a wake up call way back. It was 32 years ago. But there were things like that, years ago, that gradually made me think about what I was doing with my life. I didn't want to ruin it, really. I didn't want to throw it away, and it made [me] be less cavalier.
I had to say to myself, about the drugs and stuff, that I've been there and I've done it. There’s no point in carrying on doing it. You couldn't get any higher. You didn't want to throw your life away casually, and I was close to doing that. It took me a bit of time, but then gradually I was able to get control of myself to a certain extent [with] drugs and everything. And I think Steve's done the same thing. We're on a similar path really, which has been great because we're in the same boat in terms of lyrics and stuff.
So a lot of things like that were wake up calls. Even having grandchildren and just watching my daughter enlarging her family and everything; it just makes you really positive about things and want to show a positive side to how you're feeling, about where you're going. We've lived with the demons so long, we've found a way to live with them. We found a way to be at peace with our demons, in a way. Maybe not completely, but certainly to where we’re enjoying what we do and excited about it.
[When writing] "Running From The Ghost" it was easy to go, what was the ghost for us? At one point, we were very drug addicted in the '80s. And Steve in particular is super sober [now]. I mean, I still vape pot and stuff. I don’t know how he’s doing it, but it’s incredible. All I want to be able to do is have a couple of glasses of wine at a restaurant or something. I can do that now.
I think working with people that are super talented, you just feel confident. That is a big reason why you open up and express yourself more because you feel comfortable with what's around you.
Did you watch Danny Boyle's recent Sex Pistols mini-series?
I did, yes.
You had a couple of cameos; well, an actor who portrayed you did. How did you react to it? How accurate do you think it was in portraying that particular time period?
I love Jonesy’s book, I thought his book was incredible. It's probably one of the best bio books really. It was incredible and so open. I was looking forward to that a lot.
It was as if [the show] kind of stayed with Steve [Jones’ memoir] about halfway through, and then departed from it. [John] Lydon, for instance, was never someone I ever saw acting out; he's more like that today. I never saw him do something like jump up in the room and run around going crazy. The only time I saw him ever do that was when they signed the recording deal with Virgin in front of Buckingham Palace. Whereas Sid Vicious was always acting out; he was always doing something in a horrible way or shouting at someone. I don't remember John being like that. I remember him being much more introverted.
But then I watched interviews with some of the actors about coming to grips with the parts they were playing. And they were saying, we knew punk rock happened but just didn't know any of the details. So I thought well, there you go. If ["Pistol" is] informing a lot of people who wouldn't know anything about punk rock, maybe that's what's good about it.
Maybe down the road John Lydon will get the chance to do John's version of the Pistols story. Maybe someone will go a lot deeper into it and it won't be so surface. But maybe you needed this just to get people back in the flow.
We had punk and metal over here in the States, but it feels like England it was legitimately more dangerous. British society was much more rigid.
It never went [as] mega in America. It went big in England. It exploded when the Pistols did that interview with [TV host Bill] Grundy, that lorry truck driver put his boot through his own TV, and all the national papers had "the filth and the fury" [headlines].
We went from being unknown to being known overnight. We waited a year, Generation X. We even told them [record labels] no for nine months to a year. Every record company wanted their own punk rock group. So it went really mega in England, and it affected the whole country – the style, the fashions, everything. I mean, the Ramones were massive in England. Devo had a No. 1 song [in England] with "Satisfaction" in '77. Actually, Devo was as big as or bigger than the Pistols.
You were ahead of the pop-punk thing that happened in the late '90s, and a lot of it became tongue-in-cheek by then. It didn't have the same sense of rebelliousness as the original movement. It was more pop.
It had become a style. There was a famous book in England called Revolt Into Style — and that's what had happened, a revolt that turned into style which then they were able to duplicate in their own way. Even recently, Billie Joe [Armstrong] did his own version of "Gimme Some Truth," the Lennon song we covered way back in 1977.
When we initially were making [punk] music, it hadn't become accepted yet. It was still dangerous and turned into a style that people were used to. We were still breaking barriers.
You have a band called Generation Sex with Steve Jones and Paul Cook. I assume you all have an easier time playing Pistols and Gen X songs together now and not worrying about getting spit on like back in the '70s?
Yeah, definitely. When I got to America I told the group I was putting it together, "No one spits at the audience."
We had five years of being spat on [in the UK], and it was revolting. And they spat at you if they liked you. If they didn't like it they smashed your gear up. One night, I remember I saw blood on my T-shirt, and I think Joe Strummer got meningitis when spit went in his mouth.
You had to go through a lot to become successful, it wasn't like you just kind of got up there and did a couple of gigs. I don't think some young rock bands really get that today.
With punk going so mega in England, we definitely got a leg up. We still had a lot of work to get where we got to, and rightly so because you find out that you need to do that. A lot of groups in the old days would be together three to five years before they ever made a record, and that time is really important. In a way, what was great about punk rock for me was it was very much a learning period. I really learned a lot [about] recording music and being in a group and even writing songs.
Then when I came to America, it was a flow, really. I also really started to know what I wanted Billy Idol to be. It took me a little bit, but I kind of knew what I wanted Billy Idol to be. And even that took a while to let it marinate.
You and Miley Cyrus have developed a good working relationship in the last several years. How do you think her fans have responded to you, and your fans have responded to her?
I think they're into it. It's more the record company that she had didn't really get "Night Crawling"— it was one of the best songs on Plastic Hearts, and I don't think they understood that. They wanted to go with Dua Lipa, they wanted to go with the modern, young acts, and I don't think they realized that that song was resonating with her fans. Which is a shame really because, with Andrew Watt producing, it's a hit song.
But at the same time, I enjoyed doing it. It came out really good and it's very Billy Idol. In fact, I think it’s more Billy Idol than Miley Cyrus. I think it shows you where Andrew Watt was. He was excited about doing a Billy Idol track. She's fun to work with. She’s a really great person and she works at her singing — I watched her rehearsing for the Super Bowl performance she gave. She rehearsed all Saturday morning, all Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning and it was that afternoon. I have to admire her fortitude. She really cares.
I remember when you went on "Viva La Bam" back in 2005 and decided to give Bam Margera’s Lamborghini a new sunroof by taking a power saw to it. Did he own that car? Was that a rental?
I think it was his car.
Did he get over it later on?
He loved it. [Laughs] He’s got a wacky sense of humor. He’s fantastic, actually. I’m really sorry to see what he's been going through just lately. He's going through a lot, and I wish him the best. He's a fantastic person, and it's a shame that he's struggling so much with his addictions. I know what it's like. It's not easy.
Musically, what is the synergy like with you guys during the past 10 years, doing Kings and Queens of the Underground and this new stuff? What is your working relationship like now in this more sober, older, mature version of you two as opposed to what it was like back in the '80s?
In lots of ways it’s not so different because we always wrote the songs together, we always talked about what we're going to do together. It was just that we were getting high at the same time.We're just not getting [that way now] but we're doing all the same things.
We're still talking about things, still [planning] things:What are we going to do next? How are we going to find new people to work with? We want to find new producers. Let's be a little bit more timely about putting stuff out.That part of our relationship is the same, you know what I mean? That never got affected. We just happened to be overloading in the '80s.
The relationship’s… matured and it's carrying on being fruitful, and I think that's pretty amazing. Really, most people don't get to this place. Usually, they hate each other by now. [Laughs] We also give each other space. We're not stopping each other doing things outside of what we’re working on together. All of that enables us to carry on working together. I love and admire him. I respect him. He's been fantastic. I mean, just standing there on stage with him is always a treat. And he’s got an immensely great sense of humor. I think that's another reason why we can hang together after all this time because we've got the sense of humor to enable us to go forward.
There's a lot of fan reaction videos online, and I noticed a lot of younger women like "Rebel Yell" because, unlike a lot of other '80s alpha male rock tunes, you're talking about satisfying your lover.
It was about my girlfriend at the time, Perri Lister. It was about how great I thought she was, how much I was in love with her, and how great women are, how powerful they are.
It was a bit of a feminist anthem in a weird way. It was all about how relationships can free you and add a lot to your life. It was a cry of love, nothing to do with the Civil War or anything like that. Perri was a big part of my life, a big part of being Billy Idol. I wanted to write about it. I'm glad that's the effect.
Is there something you hope people get out of the songs you've been doing over the last 10 years? Do you find yourself putting out a message that keeps repeating?
Well, I suppose, if anything, is that you can come to terms with your life, you can keep a hold of it. You can work your dreams into reality in a way and, look, a million years later, still be enjoying it.
The only reason I'm singing about getting out of the cage is because I kicked out of the cage years ago. I joined Generation X when I said to my parents, "I'm leaving university, and I'm joining a punk rock group." And they didn't even know what a punk rock group was. Years ago, I’d write things for myself that put me on this path, so that maybe in 2022 I could sing something like "Cage" and be owning this territory and really having a good time. This is the life I wanted.
The original UK punk movement challenged societal norms. Despite all the craziness going on throughout the world, it seems like a lot of modern rock bands are afraid to do what you guys were doing. Do you think we'll see a shift in that?
Yeah. Art usually reacts to things, so I would think eventually there will be a massive reaction to the pop music that’s taken over — the middle of the road music, and then this kind of right wing politics. There will be a massive reaction if there's not already one. I don’t know where it will come from exactly. You never know who's gonna do [it].
Graphic: The Recording Academy
Hear All Of The Best Country Solo Performance Nominees For The 2023 GRAMMY Awards
The 2023 GRAMMY Award nominees for Best Country Solo Performance highlight country music's newcomers and veterans, featuring hits from Kelsea Ballerini, Zach Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris and Willie Nelson.
Country music's evolution is well represented in the 2023 GRAMMY nominees for Best Country Solo Performance. From crossover pop hooks to red-dirt outlaw roots, the genre's most celebrated elements are on full display — thanks to rising stars, leading ladies and country icons.
Longtime hitmaker Miranda Lambert delivered a soulful performance on the rootsy ballad "In His Arms," an arrangement as sparing as the windswept west Texas highlands where she co-wrote the song. Viral newcomer Zach Bryan dug into similar organic territory on the Oklahoma side of the Red River for "Something in the Orange," his voice accompanied with little more than an acoustic guitar.
Two of country's 2010s breakout stars are clearly still shining, too, as Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini both received Best Country Solo Performance GRAMMY nods. Morris channeled the determination that drove her leap-of-faith move from Texas to Nashville for the playful clap-along "Circles Around This Town," while Ballerini brought poppy hooks with a country edge on the infectiously upbeat "HEARTFIRST."
Rounding out the category is the one and only Willie Nelson, who paid tribute to his late friend Billy Joe Shaver with a cover of "Live Forever" — a fitting sentiment for the 89-year-old legend, who is approaching his eighth decade in the business.
As the excitement builds for the 2023 GRAMMYs on Feb. 5, 2023, let's take a closer look at this year's nominees for Best Country Solo Performance.
Kelsea Ballerini — "HEARTFIRST"
In the tradition of Shania Twain, Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood, Kelsea Ballerini represents Nashville's sunnier side — and her single "HEARTFIRST" is a slice of bright, uptempo, confectionary country-pop for the ages.
Ballerini sings about leaning into a carefree crush with her heart on her sleeve, pushing aside her reservations and taking a risk on love at first sight. The scene plays out in a bar room and a back seat, as she sweeps nimbly through the verses and into a shimmering chorus, when the narrator decides she's ready to "wake up in your T-shirt."
There are enough steel guitar licks to let you know you're listening to a country song, but the story and melody are universal. "HEARTFIRST" is Ballerini's third GRAMMY nod, but first in the Best Country Solo Performance category.
Zach Bryan — "Something In The Orange"
Zach Bryan blew into Music City seemingly from nowhere in 2017, when his original song "Heading South" — recorded on an iPhone — went viral. Then an active officer in the U.S. Navy, the Oklahoma native chased his muse through music during his downtime, striking a chord with country music fans on stark songs led by his acoustic guitar and affecting vocals.
After his honorable discharge in 2021, Bryan began his music career in earnest, and in 2022 released "Something in the Orange," a haunting ballad that stakes a convincing claim to the territory between Tyler Childers and Jason Isbell in both sonics and songwriting. Slashing slide guitar drives home the song's heartbreak, as Bryan pines for a lover whose tail lights have long since vanished over the horizon.
"Something In The Orange" marks Bryan's first-ever GRAMMY nomination.
Miranda Lambert — "In His Arms"
Miranda Lambert is the rare, chart-topping contemporary country artist who does more than pay lip service to the genre's rural American roots. "In His Arms" originally surfaced on 2021's The Marfa Tapes, a casual recording Lambert made with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall in Marfa, Texas — a tiny arts enclave in the middle of the west Texas high desert.
In this proper studio version — recorded for her 2022 album, Palomino — Lambert retains the structure and organic feel of the mostly acoustic song; light percussion and soothing atmospherics keep her emotive vocals front and center. A native Texan herself, Lambert sounds fully at home on "In His Arms."
Lambert is the only Best Country Solo Performance nominee who is nominated in all four Country Field categories in 2023. To date, Miranda Lambert has won 3 GRAMMYs and received 27 nominations overall.
Maren Morris — "Circles Around This Town"
When Maren Morris found herself uninspired and dealing with writer's block, she went back to what inspired her to move to Nashville nearly a decade ago — and out came "Circles Around This Town," the lead single from her 2022 album Humble Quest.
Written in one of her first in-person songwriting sessions since the pandemic, Morris has called "Circles Around This Town" her "most autobiographical song" to date; she even recreated her own teenage bedroom for the song's video. As she looks back to her Texas beginnings and the life she left for Nashville, Morris' voice soars over anthemic, yet easygoing production.
Morris last won a GRAMMY for Best Country Solo Performance in 2017, when her song "My Church" earned the singer her first GRAMMY. To date, Maren Morris has won one GRAMMY and received 17 nominations overall.
Willie Nelson — "Live Forever"
Country music icon Willie Nelson is no stranger to the GRAMMYs, and this year he aims to add to his collection of 10 gramophones. He earned another three nominations for 2023 — bringing his career total to 56 — including a Best Country Solo Performance nod for "Live Forever."
Nelson's performance of "Live Forever," the lead track of the 2022 tribute album Live Forever: A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver, is a faithful rendition of Shaver's signature song. Still, Nelson puts his own twist on the tune, recruiting Lucinda Williams for backing vocals and echoing the melody with the inimitable tone of his nylon-string Martin guitar.
Shaver, an outlaw country pioneer who passed in 2020 at 81 years old, never had any hits of his own during his lifetime. But plenty of his songs were still heard, thanks to stars like Elvis Presley, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings. Nelson was a longtime friend and frequent collaborator of Shaver's — and now has a GRAMMY nom to show for it.
Graphic: The Recording Academy
Listen: All Of The Latin Music 2023 GRAMMY Nominees In One Playlist
Ahead of Music's Biggest Night on Feb. 5, 2023, celebrate with this immersive playlist of every Latin Field nominee at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
The Latin GRAMMYs may have just honored the genre's trailblazers in Las Vegas on Nov. 17, but the celebration will continue at the upcoming 65th GRAMMY Awards ceremony in February. There are five categories in the Latin Field of the 2023 GRAMMY nominations — and you can hear all of the nominees in one playlist.
In the Best Latin Pop Album category, are Christina Aguilera's Latin GRAMMY-winning AGUILERA will compete with Rubén Blades & Boca Livre's Pasieros, Camilo's De Adendro Pa Afuera, Fonseca's VIAJANTE, and Sebastián Yatra's Dharma+. Channeling their lively Latin roots while traversing pop landscapes, these albums all magnetically merge tradition and modernity.
Reggaeton, dancehall, hip hop, and funk coalesce in the nominated works for Best Música Urbana Album: Rauw Alejandro's Trap Cake, Vol. 2, Bad Bunny's Un Verano Sin Ti, Daddy Yankee's LEGENDADDY, Farruko's La 167, and Maluma's The Love & Sex Tape.
The genre-blending jubilation continues with the Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album category. This year's nominees are Cimafunk's El Alimento, Jorge Drexler's Tinta y Tiempo, Mon Laferte's 1940 Carmen, Gaby Moreno's Alegoría, Fito Paez's Los Años Salvajes, and Rosalía's MOTOMAMI.
For Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano), 2021 winner Natalia Lafourcade's Un Canto por México - El Musical is up against Chiquis' Abeja Reina, Los Tigres Del Norte's La Reunión (Deluxe), Christian Nodal's EP #1 Forajido, and Marco Antonio Solís' Qué Ganas de Verte (Deluxe).
As for Best Tropical Latin Album, Marc Anthony — a two-time winner in the category — returns as a nominee with Pa'lla Voy, alongside pioneers Tito Nieves (nominated for Legendario), La Santa Cecilia (Quiero Verte Feliz), Víctor Manuelle (Lado A Lado B), Spanish Harlem Orchestra (Imágenes Latinas), and Carlos Vives (Cumbiana II).
Listen to all of the above albums in this comprehensive, 338-song playlist of the Latin music GRAMMY nominees at the 2023 GRAMMYs.