No concerts? No problem, thanks to virtual performances by Janelle Monae and Brandi Carlile


Like all other industries in America, the live music business took a significant hit due to the coronavirus pandemic—meaning all concerts and festivals slated for this year have either been canceled, postponed or rescheduled for 2021. As a result, many musicians have been bringing their music from their rooms to ours through live streams. Two stars who have also been advocates for the LGBTQ community are communicating their music for worthy causes. And with the upheaval and soul-searching following the death of George Floyd, their songs now seem more important than ever to get us through.

This past April, the always-entertaining Janelle Monae performed an online show as part of Verizon’s Pay It Forward series to help small businesses affected by COVID-19. If you missed that concert, you’re in luck: it’s still available on YouTube. In a press statement, Monae, who also stars in the latest season of the Amazon series Homecoming, said: “Our local coffee shops, markets, book stores, nail salons and restaurants are the souls of our communities. We need to make sure we are surrounding all small businesses—especially black and LGBTQ owned—with support and love so that they can open their doors again one day soon.” Each time users mention the hashtag #PayitForwardLIVE, Verizon will donate money up to $2.5 million to help small businesses.

Meanwhile, Brandi Carlile, who had a spectacular 2018 with her breakout record By the Way, I Forgive You, is mounting a special show at 9 tonight ET, in which she will perform that album in its entirely. Proceeds from the ticketed online event (starting at $10) will help fund her band and crew whose summer income was impacted by the pandemic. Expect her to perform from that album “The Joke,” which she described to me once in an interview in 2018: “It was inspired by a series of specific incidents—the helplessness I felt last year when the emotional temperature changed in our country toward immigrants, LGBTQ people, refugees, the poor and women who thought we were on the cusp of poking our heads up above the glass ceiling—and just needing to be reminded, and to remind others, that we know who triumphs and we know how it ends, and we know that love already conquered the world.” In these current times, those words never sounded as true as now.

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