December 8, 2021

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Billboard Revisits Eight Acts Derailed by COVID-19


Over the past few months we re-connected with all the acts to find out what their year of isolation has been like, how they tried to stay relevant during lockdown and what the future holds once they can ditch the Zoom and get back on stages. Check out their stories below.

Gracey

The British singer, 23, ended up back at her family home during lockdown after her planned debut tour and festival gigs were postponed indefinitely in early 2020. Stuck in her teenage bedroom, the Polydor signee started posting silly memes on her Instagram to stay connected with fans at first, but soon she did what so many fellow artists did during the pandemic: she improvised.

For Gracey, that meant rolling out a series of covers, remixes, behind-the-scenes videos, dropping special merch bundles, a TopShop Christmas ad campaign, releasing a mini-album, playing a few socially distanced gigs and starting a weekly e-mail blog for fans. “Who knew a global pandemic was what I needed to take off?,” the singer laughs to Billboard.

The year before, she’d lost her voice and recovery from vocal cord surgery required three months of silence, which ended up being perfect practice for staying put and finding ways to make it up as she went along from home. After writing songs for Rita Ora and Jonas Blue at 16, Gracey had been waiting years for her debut as a headline artist — and all that pent-up energy made her even more determined to find a way.

Luckily for her, a 220 KID remix of her song “Don’t Need Love” released in Dec. 2019 began to pick up steam and went top 10 in the U.K. in June 2020 — a month after she filmed a bedroom video for her Ruel collab, “Empty Love.” “Everyone being inside made us address things we can’t shy away from,” she says. “That helped me a lot as a writer and producer… I wrote so much and was being my most creative.”

Sure, some days she just binged New Girl for 10 hours, but on others she prepared for the time when she could finally hit the stage — with a few gigs penciled in for later this year — by sending her extensive mailing list of followers long, Carrie Bradshaw-like like letters about what she’s bingeing, writing and thinking about as a way to keep the connection strong. “It was a letter about what I was doing, watching, listening to… like [a chat] with my mates,” she says of the missives, which were admittedly “oversharing,” but in the best way.

More recently, she launched the “Gracey Vs” series, in which she takes on tasks including learning how to make pancakes and skateboarding for the first time. “It’s chaotic and fun — which is me summed up in two words,” she says of the series, which followed on the heels of November’s release of her second EP, The Art of Closure.





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