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Local musicians hopeful as venues slowly reopen after pandemic forced music industry to go silent

Posted at 6:30 AM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 06:30:23-04

DETROIT, Mich. — The coronavirus has affected so many. Businesses have been hit especially hard, and unemployment claims went through the roof. The entertainment business was shut down and entertainers were forced to look for work elsewhere.

The Fox Theatre is a staple in Detroit. Countless concerts, entertainment and even political debates. Entertainment venues have been quiet for over a year, and performers have had to try to make ends meet as the music went silent.

“Basically we haven’t worked since the tour canceled which was February of last year,” said musical director Kern Brantley.

A Detroit native, Brantley has performed with some of the best in the business.

“I worked with Lady Gaga for five years, before that I was the music director for Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child for several years," Brantley said. "Before that, I was musical director for Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige for several years; Puff Daddy and the Bad Boy family."

When the pandemic hit, Brantley was in China.

“This one felt a little bit more stranger (because) it was a lot more serious,” he said.

When the curtain dropped and everything came to a standstill, musicians were left wondering what to do, where to go, and how to make ends meet.

“A lot of us, musicians like myself – we depend on touring and traveling and flying and being able to travel internationally for our living," Brantley said. "So, all that’s been shut down and it hasn’t been replaced."

He added, “I did my taxes most recently and I’m at an almost 80 to 90 percent loss in revenue in what I would have made previously to what I’m making now, which is basically living off unemployment."

From enjoying the bright lights and sounds of the stage with some of the biggest names in the business to working through these tough times. Brantley says he doesn’t know how things will look when venues start to reopen. He’s just hoping he gets back to sharing the stage with some of the best and doing the one thing that makes him happy.

“Hold on to the memories of the music that has passed or the concerts they had a chance to experience in their lifetime," he said. "Without the fans, we basically have no support."

Brantley says once venues open back up he’s hoping the music will bring people back together again.