Blake Shelton Joins Campaign to Help Feed Jobless Musicians
For over a year now, the state of America’s live music industry has been grim.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left hundreds of thousands of musicians, roadies and other professionals in the tourism industry unemployed, according to the Country Music Association. In Tennessee alone, the number of unemployed in the industry is about 50,000 people.
To compound the problem, jobs at restaurants and other hospitality businesses that have long supported unemployed artists have also been drastically cut.
Now, in response to the crisis, the music association is stepping up its efforts to help those most in need in the industry. It announced Monday that it will provide 4 million meals in cities with large populations of musicians and music industry professionals under a new partnership with Feeding America.
The business organization foundation will also launch a donation challenge to fund an additional 1 million meals at all of Feeding America’s food banks. And its MICS (Music Industry COVID Support) initiative will help those in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Seattle, Washington and Portland. , Oregon. .
This will all be in addition to the $ 3 million the CMA has invested in numerous non-profit organizations serving music professionals.
“No one wants to think that their friends or colleagues are left without food,” said Sarah Trahern, CEO of the association. “But I’ve been to a few food banks that we’ve worked with over the last year, and that’s us. As people, you think, ‘There, but for the grace of God, go ahead. ‘”
“I have a feeling that next year we will be in a good position,” she said. “But a lot of these people will have spent 18-24 months without pay in whatever fields they choose. And then you can’t put a roof over your head or put braces on your kids or put food on the table. “
The need to help these musicians and music industry professionals through the coming months is the reason AMC has chosen to expand its MICS initiative. And that’s why nationwide superstar Blake Shelton said he was proud to be part of the initiative to help secure financial support for food banks.
“There are a lot of people struggling in our country, and COVID has only made it worse,” Shelton said in an interview with The Associated Press. “People go to bed at night hungrier than ever, and I just can’t live with that. I have long been passionate about helping people get the food they need.
Since beginning his recording career in 2001, Shelton has never been off the road as long as he is now, although his work on “The Voice” kept him busy when he was not at his ranch in the Oklahoma with his fiancée, Gwen Stefani and their families. He said he felt lucky to have been able to continue paying his band and team over the past year, allowing his band members to be “busy working on different musical projects, keeping their skills. sharp! “
“This pandemic has affected people across the country, working in all kinds of industries, from restaurants to schools to travel,” Shelton said. “What more can we do? The world is starting to open up again, and tours and shows are announced daily. So go support your favorite artists, bands, orchestras, theaters. Of course, do it. safe, but let’s have fun again! “
This is what Amberly Rosen aspires to do. Rosen, one half of the folk dance duo The Rosen Sisters, has toured with many artists. She has performed in arenas and major festivals with country star Terri Clark and “Late Night with David Letterman” with Maddie and Tae. And she really wants to go back to entertaining people.
“There was a ton of disappointment last year,” said Rosen, a violinist who was trained at Berklee College of Music and now lives in Nashville. “I can’t wait to have some joyful moments with people again, when we can be together a bit.”
Rosen remembers the day at the start of the pandemic when she received one call after another canceling concerts, tours and other gigs for months into the future. When even her substitute work as a violin teacher slowed down, she worried.
“It was totally terrifying,” said Rosen, 34. “I’ve always worked in music. That’s what I do. It’s who I am. All of a sudden, I couldn’t do my job.”
While looking for ways to cut costs, Rosen heard of a Musically Fed program, one of the initiatives the AMC began supporting in 2020, which would give unemployed musicians vouchers of $ 100. $ to spend at a local farmer’s market.
“It was so helpful, and I was so grateful to have it,” Rosen said. “But it was a personal struggle because I was worried, ‘Am I needy enough for this?’ I have always been able to take care of myself, but this time there really was no work in my field. “
It’s a common sentiment, especially during the pandemic, when so many people have found themselves in need so quickly, said Nancy Keil, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, one of the non-profit organizations. which will benefit from the expanded MICS initiative.
About 40% of people who have visited food banks in the past year, she said, had never done so before. Part of her group’s challenge is to educate people to accept help when they need it.
“When people just don’t have a job, you have a need,” Keil said. “You can’t just find food somewhere. You need someone to help you. It’s so basic.”
It turns out that Second Harvest needs his help. In 2020, the food bank saw a 50% increase in demand for its services – which, according to Keil, meant that about 450,000 more people in Middle Tennessee became food insecure. Financial donations increased last year. But they haven’t fully covered the costs of increasing staff and buying more supplies because food donations from now-closed restaurants have plummeted.
“This financial support from the CMA will be huge,” Keil said. “When we looked at the numbers from the last recession, it took 10 years to get back to the pre-recession numbers. We hope this time it will take a lot longer.”