The performing arts have endured a year like no other, but the decimation of touring and in-person shows has in no way squelched music fans’ love of a live performance. And in many ways, the pandemic has yielded creative new ways for artists to engage with their listeners.
Since March 2020, for example, the wildly popular Instagram Live series Verzuz, created by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, has recruited some of the biggest names in rap, hip-hop and R&B for nostalgia-driven battles. Highlighting their musical oeuvres and mimicking D.J. battles, each artist plays a song, then their opponent follows with one of their own works, chosen with the intention of one-upping. Engaged audiences argue passionately about the victor. (In a testament to their popularity and relevance, the voting rights activist Stacey Abrams appeared on a November show featuring the Atlanta artists Gucci Mane and Jeezy to promote voting in the Georgia Senate runoffs.)
At the same time that small concerts with socially distanced audiences are gradually beginning to return, livestream musical events allow the unvaccinated and those across the country to take part in intimate shows from some great artists. Here is a selection of performances in the coming week that are worthy of a festival lineup, but with a comfortable front-row seat guaranteed.
Pandora LIVE Powered by Women
Pandora is honoring Women’s History Month with a streamed all-female event, hosted by Hoda Kotb, which will include performances by Jazmine Sullivan and Gwen Stefani. They will also sit down with the fellow artists Becky G and Lauren Alaina for a round-table discussion on issues facing women in music. 9 p.m. Eastern, free for Pandora members; pandoralivepoweredbywomen.splashthat.com/PR
Blind Boys of Alabama Easter Weekend Special
The Grammy-winning gospel group will perform a Good Friday show to celebrate the Easter holiday with a slate of new and old hits. The ensemble began performing in the late ’30s — its first members were children attending the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind — and since then there has been a rotating roster of band members, many of whom are visually impaired. The socially distanced, in-person show, held at Nashville’s City Winery, will be livestreamed. 9 p.m. Eastern, tickets start at $18; boxoffice.mandolin.com