Seeking to address widespread financial need in the musical community following the shuttering of live performances amid the international health emergency, the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA) will present a star-studded online video benefit concert called #TheNewGig on Thursday, May 14.
Proceeds from #TheNewGig will support the JFA’s COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund, which was established in March of this year to help musicians and their families who have been affected by the pandemic. The fund’s priority is to cover basic living expenses.
Hosted by Keegan-Michael Key and helmed by producer/drummer Steve Jordan, longtime musical director of the JFA’s annual “A Great Night in Harlem” fundraising events at New York’s Apollo Theater, the concert will feature new performances by Jon Batiste, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Robert Cray, Davell Crawford, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Stanley Jordan, Ivan Neville, Kim Wilson, Angelique Kidjo, Milton Nascimento, and other notables.
There will also be an archival segment from past “A Great Night in Harlem” events, including performances by JFA lifetime achievement honoree Herbie Hancock, August Greene featuring Common and Karriem Riggins, the Count Basie Orchestra, and a tribute to Sonny Rollins. (This year’s gala, honoring Carlos Santana, Buddy Guy, and JFA founding director Wendy Oxenhorn and originally scheduled in April, has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.)
In addition, musicians from the JFA’s Jazz and Blues in the Schools program—which brings music to schools and nursing homes in 17 U.S. states and employs hundreds of musicians every month—will be heard during the evening, and there will be special appearances by many others, including Wayne Shorter, Bootsy Collins, Danny Glover, and Mark Ruffin.
You can see the two-hour event from 8 to 10 p.m. EDT at www.jazzfoundation.org/covid19, with a repeat videocast at 10 p.m. EDT; the webcast will remain online for 24 hours. During and after the benefit, contributions (credit card and PayPal) can be made by going to the web address above or by texting to 41444, keyword: NewGig.
Supporters of the COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund to date include individual fans from around the world; institutions including the Herb Alpert Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, and other arts philanthropists; and, critically, the music industry itself, including such companies as Mack Avenue Records, Blue Note Records, Amazon Music, Warner Music Group, Concord Jazz, and the Verve Label Group.
“An entire community of artists who live gig to gig has gone from standstill to freefall, financially speaking, but their music has continued to give us solace and comfort in quarantine,” Joe Petrucelli, the JFA’s executive director, said in a statement. “Support for #TheNewGig and the COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund provides these musicians direct assistance and creates a sense of solidarity and hope in a time of despair and uncertainty.”