A recent performance at Queens Hospital wasn’t on acclaimed soul/hop-hop and jazz violinist Damien Escobar’s spring concert schedule. Those gigs were canceled when the coronavirus pandemic erupted. But he still wanted to play.
"It's like, what can you do to help? I know what my music does for people, so I'm like, cool, I want to go play for some nurses and doctors, and I reached out to a couple of friends of mine and we went to Queens Hospital." he told NY1 via Zoom from his Upper West Side apartment. "It was absolutely amazing. I'm like, lose yourself in the moment, let's feel good, and they're dancing and they feel good and that's what it's all about."
Born and raised in Jamaica, Queens, Escobar rose to fame as a child prodigy in the violin duo Nuttin' But Stringz on America's Got Talent and later launched a solo career.
When the coronavirus brought the live music scene to a halt, he immediately did a benefit concert online for creatives and medical workers. It went so well he realized he could sell tickets to his own online concerts.
Still, like many of us, the doting father of three is adjusting.
"I went from being a recording artist to teacher, and you know parents know what I'm talking about," he said. "It was a challenge, but it's turned out to be beautiful."
We asked what's been challenging about the schoolwork, and he didn't mince words:
"Everything, just everything," Escobar said. "Seventh grade math, oh my god, I'm like, 'I can help with music, I can get you a little English and maybe gym class.'
With the music industry struggling, he's done the math and believes he's found a way for musicians to still make a living. He's just announced a new virtual concert series, "Wine Down," with sponsors Lula Cellars.
"We’ll toast digitally. It gives me a chance to chill with my fans and talk and share space," he said. He says all artists need to think outside the box, and be creative and diligent.
Escobar says the best way he can help is to share his music any way and anywhere he can.
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