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April should accept been Michelle Brooke’s time to celebrate.
The Nashville-based singer-songwriter’s activity and career had been architecture against the moment back she could assuredly absolution her admission EP Let The Light In to the world. Brooke certainly becoming a about-face in the spotlight. Afterwards belief amphitheater and achievement in Michigan, she larboard for New York to accompany a career on Broadway, and anon begin herself honing her abilities as a aerialist on Carnival Cruise Ships.
“I got to biking the world,” she says of the experience. “I got to blow a sloth in Costa Rica. Who abroad gets to do that?” Brooke eventually fabricated her way to Music City and bound begin her feet, accepting approved gigs singing in the abode bandage at celebrated city breadth Acme Feed and Seed, assuming at weddings, and one-off performances like accouterment advancement vocals for a account appearance at the allegorical Ryman Auditorium aftermost year.
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All that was arch against the recording and absolution of Let The Light In, a attractive six-song accumulating of bequest body and R&B that highlights Brooke’s able articulate ambit and cautiously asperous songs of adulation and heartbreak. The Kickstarter-funded EP was accessible to bead and Brooke was accessible to alpha a new affiliate in her adventure back aggregate in the alive music industry arena to a arrest as the country formed to apathetic the advance of the coronavirus.
Brooke’s post-shutdown adventure should be accustomed to best alive musicians. But her attempt to accomplish ends accommodated afterwards all her assignment abolished acutely overnight, and how she was pulled from the border with some advice from MusiCares is one that, like her music, deserves to be heard. Brooke afresh batten with the Recording Academy about the furnishings of the coronavirus abeyance on her career and burning her pride as she accomplished out for advice during these aggravating times.
I appetite to get a faculty of what your artistic activity was like afore aggregate in Nashville shut down. What was activity on in your world?
I confused to Nashville in September of 2016, and I got to assignment absolutely quickly. I was actual advantageous to be chip into an amazing arrangement and an amazing association here. I was singing every Thursday at a admired breadth here, Acme Feed and Seed. I’ve been in their abode band, the Music City Toppers, for about three years. It’s a funk-soul band. Absolutely abundant tunes. We had absolutely a little afterward actuality in Nashville.
My weekends, I would be out with bells bands. That’s how I’m accustomed to alive actuality and abutment myself. I use all the assets that I accustomed from singing in these bands to abutment myself. I was allotment of a bandage alleged the City Bandage and that’s how I met a brace of the co-writers that I assignment with: Jordan Philips and Adam Stark. They’re in a bandage alleged Apollo LTD. I was accomplishing alive sessions. I was accomplishing flat work. I was singing with the children’s amphitheater aggregation alleged QuaverMusic. Aloof annihilation I could do. I was authoritative a active as a musician. I wasn’t babysitting. I wasn’t cat-and-mouse tables. I was so animated that I could assuredly accept the abandon of singing as a profession.
So I was absolutely blessed and comfortable. I was about to absolution my aboriginal EP and was planning on accomplishing a absolution appearance and touring it… and that all didn’t appear unfortunately.
How continued has it been back you were able to accomplish music your full-time career?
It was September 10, 2019. That’s the date exactly. I bethink I was so blessed because that’s a dream! With musicians, it’s so attenuate that we can absolutely say, “I aloof do music for a living.” You know, I had the strangest jobs. I was a abhorrent barista. I babysat. I was a dog walker. I did every job beneath the sun to be able to abutment myself as an absolute artist.
You know, to be candid, I had been putting a lot of things on my acclaim card. I did a Kickstarter for this almanac I that put out, but in my mind, I was saying, “When March starts, I apperceive that that’s bells season, and I apperceive that every weekend I’m accomplishing to be activity out and authoritative money. I’m aloof activity to pay off aggregate that I’m putting on these cards to absolution this EP.” That goes as far as like PR, promotion, artwork, everything. So back aggregate was clearly shut down, that happened at the affliction time. There’s never a acceptable time, but that happened at the quintessential time back all of these weekend warrior musicians actuality in Nashville alpha authoritative our money.
“I had the strangest jobs. I was a abhorrent barista. I babysat. I was a dog walker. I did every job beneath the sun to be able to abutment myself as an absolute artist.”
That’s article I don’t anticipate abounding bodies alfresco of that breadth accept about Nashville. It’s a big hub for available and bachelorette parties.
Every distinct weekend! And this bandage that I was a allotment of, we assassin some appealing big time musicians. Members of Kelly Clarkson’s band. Members of Harry Connick Jr.’s band. We all accumulation into this 12 actuality van – which seems crazy appropriate now – and we go to Kentucky, Cincinnati, Indiana. We’re in this amazing bandage area we could go off on the weekends and accomplish the aliment and butter… and again we could pay our hire and abide to accomplish music.
How bound did things shut bottomward for you?
It was absolutely fast. I bethink the aftermost gig that I had at Acme. It was a Thursday night and I bethink it was actual eerie. Everyone in the bandage looked affectionate of scared. One of the drummers is absolutely a chemist so he brought some ethanol. We were all spraying our easily with it. We were absolutely cool out. And about that time, we got hit so adamantine with the tornadoes in aboriginal March. So there was a tornado watch and COVID-19 was prevalently in the news. So we were absolutely afraid onstage. My changeable counterpart, Amanda Broadway, she angry to me and said, “I’m activity to accord all the addendum tonight because I anticipate this ability be the aftermost time we’re activity to be on date for a while.” I’m cerebration it ability be like a anniversary or two weeks, but that was March 12th and I haven’t been on date since.
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Have you assuredly been able to get on the unemployment rolls?
I was able to get on the website and get registered because of a W2 that I had from my aftermost part-time job at the alpha of 2019. I’m currently accepting a very, actual baby allocation of the accompaniment maximum, which is $275. I’m alone receiving, I think, $58 appropriate now. They haven’t gone through my allowance protest. I had to go on the website and file… I anticipate it was 10 or 12 missing administration from my 1099s. That’s been a huge attempt for Nashvillians and musicians about the States. They anesthetized that bill adage that self-employed association and bodies who are absolute contractors will be eligible, but it’s so apathetic because they’re so afflicted with all these applications. I had to ability out to my accompaniment adumbrative so they could see if they could get me any added assistance.
How was it for you to appeal the admission from MusiCares? There had to be a little bit of pride burning accomplishing that.
You hit the attach appropriate on the head. It was absolutely alarming for me and I didn’t appetite to do it for a while. My accomplice Kevin McGowan — he’s the bagman in Larkin Poe — he was like, “Listen, you’ve got to get online. You’ve got to do this because this is activity to be a while.” I was a little bit in denial. I didn’t appetite to accept defeat. I was thinking, “I’m aloof activity to accumulate accomplishing livestreams and the admirers will help. Again accompany and ancestors will help.” But everybody’s in the aforementioned boat. And I was thinking, “Do I alike deserve this grant?” All the self-deprecating things you anticipate to yourself afore you ask for help. Back I assuredly activated and I was advertence my assignment history, I was realizing, “I’ve been accomplishing this career for my absolute life. I’ve been advancing music my absolute life. There’s a accumulation of bodies that appetite to advice me and admit that. They’re not saying, ‘Can I see every distinct cent that you’ve made?’ They’re aloof saying, ‘Have you been a alive affiliate of the music industry?’” There was no burden from them. They appetite to help.
“I’ve been advancing music my absolute life. There’s a accumulation of bodies that appetite to advice me and admit that.”
You got that admission from MusiCares. How are things for you now?
Oh my gosh… Back they said yes and they responded and said that the analysis was on the way, I had aloof been advancing to try to anticipate of addition abode to alive because I wasn’t activity to be able to accomplish my rent. I was cerebration I ability accept to go home to Michigan. And while I adulation actuality home, I anticipation that wasn’t a achievability because my parents are in the 60s and they’re both aerial risk. With this admission I was able to pay my hire and my bills and my car acquittal and my buzz payment. And back that happened, it was appropriate about the time I appear my EP so I was able to adore that and buy a canteen of albino and not feel accusable about it.
How are things attractive now?
They aloof started acknowledging the federal assistance. Because of that, I accept been okay. I’ve deferred several payments. It’s awe-inspiring actuality this open, but I don’t anticipate we should be abashed of cogent bodies and speaking out and saying, “I’m in the aforementioned boat.” It all comes bottomward to activity through the stages of affliction and acquainted that everybody is too. I’m activity to abide to administer for these grants and I’m activity to abide to adjourn payments and bulletin my accompaniment assembly because that’s what they’re there for. I’m in the acquit and I’ve got my buoy on. That’s area I am.
Learn added about how you can accord to or administer for abetment via the Recording Academy’s and MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Learn added about the financial, medical and claimed emergencies casework and assets offered by the Recording Academy and MusiCares.
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