Professional musicians deal with impact of COVID-19 on their livelihoods


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NewsNation Now) — A group of professional musicians living in a house in Nashville had their livelihoods turned upside down when COVID-19 hit.

Suddenly, their tours and shows were canceled, and they were forced to reevaluate their lives and their art.

So now, they’re making music together.

Kai Welch plays the keyboard in country star Kacey Musgraves’ band was rarely if ever home. He and his roommates lived their lives on the road as professional musicians, traveling from city to city, country to country and show to show.

“The main part of it really is the live show, playing to audiences,” reflected Jesse Wilson of The Band of Heathens. “There’s nothing really like it.”

Wilson and The Band of Heathens had been touring and recording an album.

And then, coronavirus hit.

With all their tour dates canceled, live venues shut down and their lives and careers cast into uncertainty, they turned inward, quarantining in their house and creating music together.

“When the essence of your productivity is taken away from you, it’s really hard to remember what your purpose is,” Nicki Bluhm said. “If anything, for me, covid has been really challenging in allowing me to feel connected to my purpose. Whether it’s writing a song, or working on a song, or working towards something musically, it feels really good.”

The house has always been a music sanctuary, with countless songs written here, and tracks recorded since everyone who calls it home is in the business.

“We all kind of have the same struggles and the same triumphs,” Welch said.

Still, the new world is forcing them to make adjustment.

Nicki bought a van, so she can travel to small, intimate, socially distanced venues and stay isolated. Jesse is performing remotely and editing. Heather is sitting on the album she recorded with her band, the Daybreaks, unsure of whether to release it without the ability to tour.

“If this continues, we could make a whole record- who knows?” Heather said.

Kai is using his time to build a deck. And Leo is reevaluating whether he can make a living on music altogether and going to coding school.

“I know that people need music. People need to play music, people need to experience music. I know that for a lot of people, it’s all that they have to connect on a human level,” Nicki said. “There’s a lot of unknown, and I’m hoping that we don’t go back to the normal, we go back to something new.”

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