The COVID-19 pandemic has downturned the lives of countless individuals and families across the nation and all over the world. The means of livelihood have gravely been affected, leading people to file for unemployment benefits. Heeding the call to support displaced musicians, the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA) will sponsor #TheNewGig, an online benefit concert on May 14.

#TheNewGig is a two-hour live stream show to be hosted by Keegan-Michael Key and will feature virtual performances by Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Jon Batiste, and a whole lot more of jazz, pop, and blues artists. The event is replacing JFA's annual benefit "Great Night in Harlem" that was supposed to take place last April at the Apollo in New York City. The yearly show had to be postponed due to the mandatory social distancing caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  

The free online concert will be broadcasted over the official channel of the host, Relix on YouTube. #TheNewGig webcast aims not just to provide a jazzy night of entertainment for those staying home but to pool donations for JFA's COVID-19 Musicians' Emergency Fund. The program was set up in March to provide support to the foundation's goal to help sustain the basic needs of musicians and their families for the whole year.

Jazz Foundation of America's mission

Jazz Foundation of America, established in 1989, is a non-profit organization based in Manhattan, New York City. One of the foundation's programs is the Musicians' Emergency Fund that gives house and emergency assistance, pro bono medical care, disaster relief, and now, COVID-19 relief. The other program is creating employment for musicians through different means.

Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Elvis Costello is headlining the show. Sheryl Crow is on the list of performers; also part of the show are Stanley Jordan, Jon Batiste, Ivan Neville, Angelique Kidjo, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Robert Cray, Milton Nascimento, and Kim Wilson.  

There will be special appearances from Steve Jordan, bandleader and drummer, Bruce Willis, Danny Glover, Mark Ruffin, Jeffrey Wright, Michael Imperioli, Bootsy Collins, Wayne Shorter, Rosie Perez, and Steve Schirripa.

More so, fans will be treated with previous clips from other musicians. JFA will be bringing out classic moments from its archives to present selections from several "Great Night in Harlem" benefit shows in recent years. Among those to be taken from the archives are performances from the Herbie Hancock Sextet, Patti Smith, the Count Basie Orchestra, Brittany Howard, a tribute to Sonny Rollins, and August Green with Common and Karriem Riggins.

#TheNewGig will start airing from 8-10 pm ET/ 5-7 pm PT on May 14, Thursday, on YouTube. The repeat will be shown at 10 and will remain online for 24 hours for those who will miss the live feed. Donations are welcome, and for those interested to make one, it can be done during or after the webcast at www.jazzfoundation.org/covid19.  

From the official statement on the website, JFA expressed concern over the jazz and blues community situation as it is "one of the earliest to be hit... and least equipped to endure such a disruption." Acknowledging the unprecedented need during the COVID-19 crisis, JFA remains on its mission and purpose to "provide emergency assistance in times of crisis." The foundation claims that it continues to give "compassionate counsel and offer direct financial support" to hundreds of jazz and blues musicians.