The pandemic completely reshaped our world. Business doors closed and communities had to learn how to support their neighbors while staying safe in their home. The music industry was one of the most heavily impacted sectors, with millions of talented instrumentalists and singers having to completely relearn what everyday life looked like (and how they’d be getting paid). Birmingham musicians have spent over a year and a half playing virtual shows, working on songs, and just trying to make it through each week. The return to the stage is a return to live music, but to so much more as well. Community, energy, inspiration, and positivity are all making a comeback.
Nowhere is this statement more apparent than the recent RA the Rugged Man concert at The Nick, which featured Brother Burch as well as Shaheed and DJ Supreme. All these musicians have had a longing to return to this moment, and feel blessed to be back. Burch had his hands full in 2020, raising a child, going to college, and dealing with the stresses that come with a worldwide pandemic. However, he was still able to release a collection of stellar songs at the beginning of the pandemic and spent time recording with vast ness. in Nashville.
Shaheed and DJ Supreme kept busy by finding a variety of new ways to engage minds with their lyrical messages. Some samples of their virtual ventures include educating youth as panelists at UAB and the University of Montevallo, an online show at Alabama Waldorf School’s AWS Fest, another with Seasick Records, and a scorching hot virtual set for Birmingham’s annual Freedom Fest.
By far the biggest pandemic project taken on by Birmingham’s premiere hip-hop duo is K.R.U. (Knowledge, Rhythm & Understanding), a new venture that allows them to pass down both world and word knowledge to the next generation of musicians rising up in the Magic City. The nonprofit just started accepting donations, and the duo will be performing at a benefit show with the legendary Akil the MC of Jurassic 5 fame on June 5th at Ghost Train.
While these excursions from the norm have been amicable, all parties are thrilled to get back to performing on a stage in front of a live audience. First comes shaking off the cobwebs and settling the nerves. “You can practice, you can rehearse. I have. I’ve been doing it a ton but it’s just not the same.” says Burch of the experience, noting he used to attend at least one open mic or concert each week which allowed him to stay sharp on the microphone. But as Shaheed notes, the time away has only made musicians appreciate the gift of performing live more than ever. “You have more of an appreciation it seems. When something is gone, you can appreciate it more and you miss that feeling regularly.” For Brother Burch, this appreciation includes the chatter and mingling between sets. “My favorite thing has always been talking to other artists and the fans. Picking their brains.”
Brother Burch, Shaheed, and DJ Supreme all agreed that opening for a hip-hop legend and inspiration amplified the excitement to another level, and playing at The Nick builds on this energy even more. As Shaheed puts it, when you take the stage at this classic venue “you’re literally going down in history with some of the greats.” And this show is the first of many in a return to live music. Burch can’t wait to enjoy some of the underground Birmingham hip-hop shows that always show love. “It’s always been like a family experience. You go to The Basement or you go to an Erthling. show, you’re going to see the same people. That’s what I love about it. That’s what makes it authentic. I’m just ready for it to open back up so we can do that again.”
Shaheed and DJ Supreme are ready for that same local upliftment, and anxious to get back to see their fans across the globe for the first time in over a year. “To all our fans, we love you. We can’t wait to get back out there. It’s going to be fantastic.” shares Supreme. After what feels like ages of no live music, we know fans are ready to show their favorite live performers love as well - and we encourage everyone to embrace the beauty that is the Birmingham music scene!