When I first penned this piece I titled it – The Year the Music Paused, as a play on the Don McLean song –The Day the Music Died. In it, I wrote about the impact of COVID-19 on Nashville and my life here with my husband as a musician.
I wrote about how I’ve gotten a first-hand look at the music community in Nashville. My husband is a drummer and typically spends about half of his year on tour. For musicians and all of the people in the music industry – managers, tour crews, venue employees – the coronavirus has meant a complete halt to their careers. For some, their only source of income disappeared in an instant, leaving them suddenly worried about being able to make rent next month. For my husband, he has gone from playing to crowds of thousands of fans, to planning our nightly dinners. I’m grateful for his new interest in cooking, but also know that he misses playing music and being on stage.
When I read what I wrote just a few weeks ago, it doesn’t really seem possible that the world could be upended even more since the start of this global pandemic. However, it has.
The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery sparked international protests. People everywhere are demanding societal change and pressuring states across the US to rethink how they’ll fund law enforcement and address police brutality in the future. Being in an inter-racial relationship, the outcry over the ways Black Americans have been mistreated, underserved, and underpaid has also brought out a lot of emotions and unrest in our home.
Being a black man in the south, the fear and distrust of the police was nothing new for my husband. He’s shared these experiences with me over time and I’ve witnessed them myself – just a few weeks before this he was stopped by the police while taking the trash down in front of our house.
While these fears and frustrations aren’t new, the protests have felt very different this time. They have sparked him to go over past experiences in the music industry that begun to lift of a veil that was closed for a long time. He has started to find his voice throughout this chaos and is beginning to sharing his stories.
His stories sadly aren’t unique in the music industry. Recently two music executives issued an impassioned plea that #TheShowMustBePaused in response to the deaths of black citizens at the hands of police. Their choice of hashtag felt oddly linked to the pause we have been experiencing due to the coronavirus.
The world is reeling from the unimaginable numbers associated with the virus – over 8 million cases, almost a half a million deaths, 1.5 billion children have had their education interrupted, 36 million unemployed in the US. And at the same time we are reeling over the names and stories of the people that have died due to the color of their skin – George, Breonna, Ahmaud, Rayshard…
My thoughts continue to imagine the stories behind each of these numbers, the people behind the names. They drift toward the stories of those that have lost loved ones and weren’t able to be there in the final moments or gather for a funeral. To those that have lost fathers, sisters, best friends. To those that have lost careers and a way of life. This year was meant to look very different – but it has now become a year of awakening, of a change in perspective and being grateful for the pause.