Like many artists, R&B singers Anthony Hamilton and Raheem DeVaughn, pictured above, have had to deal with the ups and downs of living through a pandemic. Due to the ever-changing COVID restrictions that vary from state to state, many concerts have been postponed or cancelled. Recently, the two performed at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, Md. (Photos/J.J. McQueen)

By J.J. McQueen
Special to the AFRO

For nearly two full years, fans of the R&B singers Anthony Hamilton and Raheem DeVaughn have been waiting patiently to see them perform in person. Afterall, it was a performance that left nothing on the table. Why did it take so long? Who did it impact? How did the artist and production teams recover? Those are all questions that many have asked in relation to multiple shows being postponed and then cancelled. 

The answer is one we’ve grown all too familiar with: COVID. 

However, much like the days of old, many African-American artists have had to collaborate with one another to create avenues for revenue. For Indie artists like Hamilton and DeVaughn the pivot was instinctual. After having spent years as independent artists, both creatives understood the value in having been self-employed. 

Recently in a radio interview Hamilton said, “once my contractual obligations were up with my previous label, I knew it was time to start my own. I had some things artistically that I needed to reveal to the world. I also wanted to cut out the middle man.”

Hamilton’s ticket partner also fared well amid the pandemic shutdown. After spending 15 plus years as an indie artist, the Washington D.C. native’s online sales and metrics are higher than they’ve ever been in his career. 

During their performances both artists celebrated being over the age of 40. DeVaughn said, “I’m now at an age where I appreciate the lessons of life, and it’s being poured into my music.” 

The impact of the pandemic around the world not only shuttered fans, but it also impacted production teams, security, management, musicians, lighting directors and even seasoned teams of ushers at local and national venues. 

In recognizing the catastrophic gravity of COVID’s impact, Black artists have taken it upon themselves to shoulder the next steps of safely putting people back to work. So much so that Hamilton stopped mid-show and shared that he’d been hospitalized in December 2020 for two weeks as a result of a COVID-19 diagnosis. He told the audience with a little comedic inflection, “People please wear your mask. Seriously, I said that in a fun way, but we want y’all to be able to come back and safely enjoy these shows.”

Healthcare teams all around the world are still grappling with the approval of large gatherings while COVID numbers are rising. However, Hamilton and DeVaughn provided room for hope that patience and wisdom still has a place while navigating uncertain times.

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