12 Artists That Got Me Through 2020

These are 12 artists that helped me get through 2020. I found myself returning to them again and again throughout the year; sometimes for inspiration, sometimes for entertainment, and often times for solace or escape from the difficulties of the year.

 

12.  Andrea Von Kampen - Singer/songwriter

There’s something true and genuine in her voice. Her covers bring a modern turn to old melodies and her original music is heartfelt, soulful, and often melancholy. I turned to her music when my emotions felt dry and I need “to feel something”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNn4by_ow0I

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdUy9Ob32FE

 

11. Billy Strings – Acoustic Guitar

He’s the most innovative and largest driving force in progressive bluegrass, today.

Super skilled and musical, he has deep roots in traditional bluegrass, while expanding the boundaries for a new generation.  There’s so much of his music out there, it’s hard to choose just a couple tunes. His playing kept me entertained and inspired for hours on end.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9SXdK3A9w8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-7Sv8dnpsg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCG9qdAm1J4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgqPJ8Bgh3o

 

10. Phil Cunningham - Accordion

Known for being at the forefront of the revival of Irish traditional music in the 70s/80s his band, Silly Wizard, was among the best known and people’s favorite; and man, they played fast! He’s still putting out music today, albeit at a slower pace, collaborating with many well-known artists.  He composed “When Summer Ends”. That piece affected my greatly as summer was moving into fall.

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CFPJJUfBzX2/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gBoCBXFZzE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1gRDQEIiSM

 

9. The New York Philharmonic

The New York Phil seemed to see the writing on the wall very quickly when the pandemic hit.  They knew how the lack of live performances would affect the musicians, the organization, and indeed, the audience.  Of course, professional orchestras world-wide suffered, some musicians being furloughed and others actually being laid off as the organizations lost all sources of revenue.  The musicians of the New York Phil found creative ways to keep the music flowing and the organization afloat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8uzgmAs47w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjYxKoZ9xWA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXvOBMC-IL8

 

8. Elmer Churampi – Trumpet, Dallas Symphony

He’s the 3rd chair trumpet in the Dallas Symphony, and he’s so young!  I follow him on Instagram and he posts regularly.  Much of it is him, practicing, playing excerpts, and a few performances.  He’s so very positive and enthusiastic about playing music that his attitude is infectious. He appears so excited about his playing and seems genuinely grateful to be in his position in the orchestra.  His playing is precise and expressive. And his sound is sooo good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6Vy4cgYZuE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ2yoO734Jo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoU3u0sIQ7w

 

7. Chris Still – Trumpet, Los Angeles Philharmonic

From his website: “Chris creates focused, actionable plans that help musicians and other creatives address the issues standing between them and their goals.” He has made a career of assisting artists with techniques of being honest with themselves, taking stock of their abilities and merging them with their passion to find a career they enjoy. So, it’s not so much his music as it is his message.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Yl8pX-RdW4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IN-Ja-K3Nk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSaoc1zNR4Q

 

6. Lucie Jones – British Stage Actress/Singer

In 2009, Lucie was a contestant on X Factor, a British talent show created by Simon Cowell.  She struggled, according to the judges, pulling off some genres. However, her goal was to be on the Broadway stage and in the musical theatre genre, she shone brightly. Now she's a big star! This video is all you need to witness the pure talent and artistry. (From the concert performance of the musical “Waitress” music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles) really… it was a pretty big hit.  She released a CD of Broadway hits in 2020 from a 2019 live show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKQ1EpbZZTg

 

5. Sierra Boggess – American Stage Actress/Singer

In April, Broadway rebroadcast the 25th anniversary concert of The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall (2011). Sierra Boggess played the leading role of Christine Daaé.  The following day I looked her up, expecting to see someone who matched the personality of the character, but what I encountered was an artist who the absolute personification of beaming positiveness into the world.  It seems her whole existence is to bring light, healing, positivity, and gratefulness into the world and every person she encounters.  She posts daily message of hope and mindfulness. She has a true gift of a voice that’s fit for the Broadway stage or the operatic stage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncvnA8p4lww

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bh63LvXc_s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BekfiopMhs

4. Wynton Marsalis – Trumpet, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

Of course, everyone knows about Wynton’s trumpet prowess, but less know about the philosopher.  He’s a magnificent observer and coach of the human condition as it relates to music, cultural influences and shifts, and even politics. Throughout 2020 he had a weekly, 30 minute, Instagram discussion with the PR manager at Live at Lincoln Center where they discussed recent events, jazz history, music, teaching, learning, life, and everything! His stories kept me engaged and helped me to think outside of myself. His act of expounding wisdom forced me to want to be better and aspire to do good things for others and for myself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwDW6k9HBQ8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmJk0nagIHM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GH2k8GccrqI

 

3. Ger O’Donnell – Irish Singer/Songwriter, Multi-instrumentalist

Over the last few years, Ger O’Donnell has collaborated with other Irish trad artists and produced some memorable music, at his house! He brings artists, who are passing through his area, over to his house, sets up a couple of mics and cameras, then records the session. He uses some very high quality recording gear and is a fine sound engineer.  I found myself constantly returning to his music to be inspired by his arrangements, the musical excellence of his guests, and not least, searching for clues on how he produces such quality sound.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIVH93IIXCo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jP6Zr6DXmBY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecvIZ3agcLQ

 

2. The Petersens – Family Roots/Bluegrass Band

A family talented family, from Branson MO, who truly enjoy each other’s company. It’s evident from their videos that they’re having fun both on and off the stage. They’re just a pleasure to watch perform.  Throughout 2020, I looked forward to every video they released.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpStDgySVQI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqOzG_A8tMs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3hXYININJw

 

1. Mary Bowden – Trumpet, Professional Artist

Mary Bowden realized, very quickly, the impact COVID would have on musicians and did something about it, right away.  In April and May when it began to sink in for the rest of us how long a haul this was going to be, she was already hosting virtual interviews with principal brass players from around the world, organizing online webinars, performances and much more.  She shared them all on social media and I watched all of it.  She even had a project of posting something of her practicing every day for 100 days! She’s an excellent musician with rare and wonderful forethought how to make the absolute best out of any situation.  She approached her projects with grace, humanity, and empathy while maintaining a stalwart will to accomplish her goals and intentionally lifting up others in the process. I appreciated, so much, the content she posted and was eager to see what she was up to, each day.  It really was something to look forward to, during a time of seemingly endless days of sameness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ya7BKQzqGQA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtW6i5GyNek

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB4_8aDgo0U