WITH many people staying home to help “flatten the curve” and prevent the spread of covid19, Digicel has stepped up to provide them with an additional source of entertainment with a free online concert series.
It was launched on the company’s Facebook page on Sunday and featured jazz artiste Vaughnette Bigford.
Speaking with Newsday on Monday morning, the company's communications, sponsorship and events executive Colin Greaves said the team was trying to figure out how it could help people during this time.
The series will feature local artistes performing in their living room, with a crew of five or less while they practise social distancing. It airs on Thursdays at 7 pm and on Sundays at 3 pm.
“We realised, with everyone now being home, there’s a need for people to be entertained. Especially since people have been consuming so much covid19 information that a lot of people started feeling overwhelmed, people started feeling sad.”
He said a number of events the company had signed on as a sponsor have been cancelled or postponed because of the virus.
“We said, 'Let’s get some of the artistes who were due to perform at these events or who we have relationships with and see how we could get them to perform for people, 'cause families all home stuck together.'
“If we could add an hour of distraction to your day where you could smile and just feel good…
“All of that is what we wanted to do and it worked.”
Before Bigford began her performance, she was shown thoroughly washing her hands with soap and water, and also reminded the public to take the necessary precautions.
Greaves said all the videos would start with that, as Digicel wants to align the production with the Government’s guidance.
Bigford’s concert attracted over 40,000 viewers. She told Newsday it was a refreshing experience, and that people had sent her pictures of themselves dressed up in their living rooms tuning in. Others said they were moved to tears by her performance.
Digicel pitched the idea to her about a week ago and she immediately said yes.
“We, as artistes, were already trying to find ways to remain active and to survive. Remember, for the next three to four months we may be out of work.”
She said because of the virus, at least five of her planned gigs had been cancelled.
“People are stuck in their homes, and they’re just looking for things to do – things that are different and peak their interest, things that are organic. People really looked forward to it.
“A lot of people appreciate it and said they felt better after the experience, which is exactly what we were trying to accomplish.”
She performed with keyboard accompaniment by Michael “Ming" Low Chew Tung.
“It’s just keyboard and voice, so you have to take things like that into consideration because you want to represent the sound properly.”
Asked about her song choices, she said she wanted to sing “feel-good” music for the audience. And in her usual fashion, she added a bit of comedy during each break.
Asked how she has been spending her time otherwise, she said she has been watching a lot of movies as, “Netflix is the greatest.”
She added that her six-year-old son has also been keeping her alert and on her toes.
Greaves said Digicel is a “big supporter of culture and the arts” so the series will last for as long as it needs to.
“What we also do with each artiste is to ensure they promote positive music and positive energy. The whole idea is Digicel is there with you.”
He said this is just one part of a bigger online-engagement campaign the company is working on.
In addition to going online, the concerts will be available free to customers who use the company’s TV service. Its next guest will be local soca star Preedy.