How to Watch YouTube Originals’ ‘Dear Class of 2020′ All-Star Commencement

YouTube Originals’ “Dear Class of 2020″ commencement ceremony, featuring Barack and Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, BTS, Lady Gaga, Maluma and more, will officially commence Sunday, June 7 at 3:00 p.m. ET.

The four-hour virtual graduation, which was pushed back a day to honor George Floyd’s memorial service, will open with Lizzo and the New York Philharmonic performing “Pomp and Circumstance” and remarks from Alicia Keys. At the end of the celebration, Katy Perry will lead the graduates in the monumental tassel turn. Check out Sunday’s full line-up of commencement speakers, performers, featured celebrity guests and YouTube creators here.

Viewers can attend the virtual ceremony by watching the livestream on the YouTube Originals channel and the Learn@Home website. Graduates can digitally connect with up to 99 of their classmates and family members during the ceremony by setting up a watch party on Google Meet, a secure video meeting platform that’s free for anyone with an email address.

Grads just need to add “Dear Class of 2020″ on their Google Calendar by clicking here. Learn@Home also listed instructions on how to set up the watch party, which can also be found in the Google Calendar invite.

Check back on Sunday, June 7 at 3 p.m. ET for the celebrity-filled commencement below.

Raymix Comes Out as Gay: ‘I Am Free & Happier Than Ever’

Electrocumbia pioneer Raymix (real name: Edmundo Gómez Moreno) took to social media to come out as a gay to his fans opening up for the first time about his sexuality.

In a five-minute video posted on his YouTube channel today (June 5), the “Oye Mujer” singer begins his heartfelt message acknowledging the vulnerable moment we’re living in today with the COVID-19 pandemic and cases of racism and discrimination, and then goes on to make the announcement.

“Can you believe that in 2020, there are people in the industry who told me not to do this video? That I should stay quiet and pretend to be the person I am not because I wouldn’t be successful. They told me that the audience is not ready for an artist who sings cumbia or regional Mexican music [to come out as gay]. With so much pride today, I want to tell you that I’m gay. And if you ask me what will change after this message, the answer is: nothing,” he says.

“I’ve been wanting to say this for a long time and I’m happy to finally be able to say it because it isn’t easy,” the Mexican singer explains. “I am more free and happier than ever. I will continue to take cumbia to different parts of the world.”

Raymix also posted on social media and on Instagram added, “So many dreams don’t fit in a damn closet. I am officially telling the world: I’m Edmundo and I’m gay.”

Check out Raymix’s full message below:

Beyonce Demands ‘Justice’ for Breonna Taylor on Her 27th Birthday

Beyoncé has joined the growing list of celebrities honoring Louisville native Breonna Taylor on what would have been her 27th birthday Friday (June 5).

“Justice for Breonna. Click the link in my bio to take action,” Bey wrote alongside an animated image of Taylor, with a link to the petition fans can sign to demand justice.

Taylor was killed on March 13 when a squad of police used a battering ram to enter her apartment using a “no-knock” warrant and opened fire, fatally hitting Taylor at least eight times.

Her name has been chanted by the thousands of protesters who’ve taken to the streets over the past week and a half nationwide to march in honor of George Floyd, the black Minneapolis man who was killed in police custody when a white officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Here Are the Racial Justice Organizations & Black Creators That Took Over Artists’ Instagrams

Lizzo, Lady Gaga, Shawn Mendes, Selena Gomez and more artists are using their platforms for good — but while letting someone else run it.

Protests sparked after the racist murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and more Black people, but the conversations about justice in this country must continue. That’s why artists have teamed up with organizations like the Black Visions Collective and social activists like Zyahna Bryant and Alicia Garza to spread the word about how the Black Lives Matter movement should move forward.

Find a growing list of artists who are passing the mic to grassroots organizers by giving them access to their social media accounts below.

June 5: Lizzo hopped on Instagram Live with Black Visions Collective, a Minnesota-based, Black-led organization that empowers Black queer and transgender people, to talk about how artists can do their part to lead the wave while recognizing the wave’s crucial intersectionality. “Artists who have this position need to make sure it’s in the music, it’s in the movies, it’s being discussed in the board rooms…. The system is broken, but the system is actually working just fine. We need to break the system,” she told core team member Oluchi Omeoga. Read the recap of their entire chat here.

Selena Gomez turned her handle over to Alicia Garza, the co-creator of the Black Lives Matter movement and the founder of Black Futures Lab, which works with advocacy organizations and local, state and federal legislators to empower Black communities. “Everybody is taught that if you do something wrong, you have to make it right,” Garvza said in an Instagram TV video. “And when it comes to Black folks and police, there is a dynamic where Black people are being murdered — sometimes on camera, sometimes not — by police, and police are not having to make it right.”

Shawn Mendes gave his 56 million Instagram followers a treat when Zyahna Bryant, an award-winning student activist and community organizer from Charlottesville, Va., took over his page. “My work is mainly centered around taking down Confederate monuments and also working on educational equity issues,” she said on Mendes’ IG story. She used the swipe-up feature to link to her “Beyond the Hashtag: How to Take Anti-Racist Action in Your Life” opinion-editorial that she penned for Teen Vogue, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund, and more educational and financial resources.

June 4: Lady Gaga announced on her Instagram that she would share more than her money to different organizations but also her platform. “And after I vow to regularly, in perpetuity, across all of my social media platforms, post stories, content, and otherwise lift up the voices of the countless inspiring members and groups within the Black community,” the pop star captioned a picture flashing her peace sign wrist tattoo.

Abbey Road Reopens From Lockdown: ‘We Will Recover, But It Has Hit Our Bottom Line Hard’

LONDON — On Thursday, London’s Abbey Road Studios reopened its famous oak doors to musicians after being closed for more than 10 weeks in accordance with United Kingdom government measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The first recording session to take place in the Grade II listed complex — synonymous with The Beatles and Pink Floyd — since reopening included 40 members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, jazz singer Melody Gardot, who joined remotely from Paris, and Grammy-winning producer Larry Klein, who joined from Los Angeles.

“Opening again and having an orchestra fill Studio One was a real goosebumps moment,” Abbey Road Studios’ managing director, Isabel Garvey, tells Billboard.

Here, she explains the special COVID-19 safety measures that were taken to enable the session to take place and what they mean for the future of Abbey Road and recording studios around the world.

How did you feel Thursday when Abbey Road finally reopened its doors after being shut for 10 weeks?

I was elated. It was brilliant just to hear music in the studios again. In almost 90 years this is the first time we have ever closed. We stayed open all the way through World War II, so it was completely strange to shut those oak doors [on March 24]. It took a global pandemic for us to close.

When did you first start putting plans in place to safely reopen?

This has been a month in the making. [We had] to try and build a road map that meant we were mitigating risk, but still maintaining inspirational, creative spaces and that the studios didn’t feel really clinical, but were safe. It was a month of risk assessment documents, which were absolutely necessary to ensure Abbey Road was as safe a working environment as it can be.

What practical changes have you had to make in line with social distancing and safety guidelines around COVID-19?

We’re fortunate in that studios one and two are huge spaces. But even so, a 40-person orchestra is half the normal size orchestra we would have in there. We had all of the orchestra members two meters apart and slightly further apart for any brass instruments. We have socially distanced queuing coming into the building. We have created a visitor management system where people pre-register before they enter and completely contactless registration. Once the musicians are sitting in their chairs, they don’t move for the session. They have their lunch there and just stay put. So we are trying to minimize how much people move around the building. And because our corridors are quite narrow everyone has to wear a mask when they are in our public spaces.

Do those same restrictions apply to producers and engineers in the control rooms?

Studio One has a very large control room, as does Studio Three. We’ve limited it to four people in there, which is plenty in terms of social distancing. But it’s the changing culture [that’s that biggest difference]. People can no longer come up and lean over the mixing desk. Everyone needs to stay in their chairs and think about everything that they are touching. It’s quite strange. You have to regularly remind yourself and keep to your zone.

Now that Abbey Road is open again, what level of demand are you anticipating from artists, producers and composers wanting to book studio time in the months ahead?

In Studio One we tend to do a lot of scoring for TV and film and there is a lot of pent-up demand there. Lockdown stopped production on a lot of projects that were nearing completion and there is a real demand for new content now. On the artist front, they roughly fall into two camps. There are some artists who are just itching to get back and have been hugely creative in this period, so want to lay down albums. And there are others who are a little nervous. From a financial perspective, it will take us a long time to recover from this. But it feels really positive in terms of people who just want to get into the building and record.

What additional precautions have you taken to protect your staff and any visitors to the studios?

We’ve been very conscious that we ramp up slowly. [For Melody Gardot] we purposely didn’t have anything else going on in any other studio so we could assess how it went. Over the next two weeks, we’re just taking it project by project and understanding how it works in each of our spaces. All of our office-based staff are still working from home and we’re only [bringing in] engineers, technicians and site service staff as and when we need them. We’re still working on as skeleton staff as we can to keep the team as safe as possible.

Temperature checks?

We didn’t. We can offer that as a service. We can hire medics in if any client wanted that. But on registration, all musicians and clients have to confirm that they currently have no COVID-19 symptoms, nor have they had them in the last seven days.

What has been the financial impact of COVID-19 on Abbey Road?

We’ve diversified our business over the last five years, so that has really helped us through this period. We are definitely faring better than most and given all of this pent-up demand we will recover, but it has hit our bottom line hard.

Have you had to make any job cuts or furlough any employees during this period?

No. We’ve been very fortunate. We have the advantage of a parent company in Universal Music. They have been wonderful in recognizing that this is a necessary moment in time to down tools and we will recover and we can’t recover without our full staff base. So everyone has stayed gainfully employed and is itching to get back.

Long term, what do you think the impact of coronavirus on the recording studio sector will be?

It’s been commercially very difficult for studios that don’t sit with a parent company. That’s been our saving grace. There’s definitely demand out there for incredible recording spaces. The big question is: if there is a second wave, can we survive that? We’ve managed to scrape through 10 weeks of lockdown, but could we do that again in the same calendar year? It’s really hard. The Music Producers Guild (MPG) have [been] lobbying government to make sure smaller studios get all of the help that they need because it’s really important to keep the studio world vibrant. It would be hugely detrimental to the creative industries if we let studios go under because of COVID-19.


Lizzo Talks Artists’ Power & Intersectionality Within BLM Movement on Black Visions Collective’s Instagram Live

Lizzo hopped on Instagram Live with Black Visions Collective, a Minnesota-based, Black-led organization that empowers Black queer and transgender people, on Friday (June 5) to talk about pushing the Black Lives Matter movement forward.

“I’ve never seen anything like this…. I’m actually hopeful,” the pop star told Black Visions Collective’s core team member Oluchi Omeoga. She recalled camping outside of a local police precinct to protest after Jamar Clark, a Black man from Minnesota, was shot and killed by officers back in 2015.

Although she’s been taking it to the streets of Los Angeles, Calif. with other celebrities outside of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s house over the weekend (“It was so inspiring to see the black joy,” she mused), a part of Lizzo’s heart remains in Minneapolis. “I knew Minneapolis would always be a part of the revolution!” she exclaimed before Omeoga and her shouted in tandem, “Prince always knew!”

Minnesota-based artists like the late Prince and Lizzo aren’t strangers to the revolution because Lizzo believes artists play pivotal leadership roles — that is, when also giving grassroots organizers like Black Visions Collective and young activists their platforms to do so.

“I believe deeply that there are voices that need to be heard,” she said, citing Shawn Mendes for handing over his Instagram account to Zyahna Bryant, a young Black activist and community organizer. “Artists who have this position need to make sure it’s in the music, it’s in the movies, it’s being discussed in the board rooms…. The system is broken, but the system is actually working just fine. We need to break the system.”

Breaking a system, according to Lizzo’s vision, means different communities coming together. And there’s no better time for solidarity among other discriminated groups than during Pride Month, which she exclaimed she couldn’t be more excited about. “If all of the people realized — if all of the marches came together — what we could do, the problems look different. The consequences look different. But the oppressors look exactly the same,” she said.

Omeoga unpacked the “multiple identities and multiple oppressions” happening to the Black LGBTQIA+ community, especially when the murder of Tony McDade, a Black trans man who was shot and killed by police in Tallahassee, Fla. last month, continues to go unnoticed. “Black trans people’s names are missing from these memorials,” Lizzo pointed out, as protests springing up throughout the whole world focus on saying the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. “We gotta keep that same energy!” Lizzo expressed.

Considering they were coming together on June 5, what would have been Taylor’s 27th birthday before police shot her eight times and killed her in her Louisville, Ky. apartment back in March, the two wanted to sing a special tune. Omeoga requested if Lizzo would lead them in the “Black Happy Birthday” version, which she did joyously while clapping and snapping along. “She deserves to have cake and smile and take pictures…. Because of this f—ed up, corrupt, racist system, she got shot eight times in her sleep,” the 32-year-old artist said.

Whether it’s singing “Happy Birthday” to Taylor or Amber Riley performing Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s “Freedom” at the sit-in outside the LA mayor’s house that Lizzo attended, the “Truth Hurts” singer said movements have always been in tandem with art. And it doesn’t stop at the artists. She called on Beyhive, BTS’ ARMY and other fanbases who have the power to spam their icon’s pages to use that same energy to spam government officials to “get them to move.”

Check out Lizzo’s entire Instagram Live conversation with the Black Visions Collective below.


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‘Why I Protest’: Lauren Jauregui on Why She Marches in Solidarity With Black Lives Matter

Thousands of people have taken the streets, from Minneapolis to Los Angeles to Miami, and beyond, to protest against racial injustice and police brutality in the U.S. The national outrage is in response to the death of George Floyd and other black citizens who have died in the hands of police.

Amongst the countrywide protesters, Cuban-American artist Lauren Jauregui walked the streets in Downtown Miami to demand justice and police accountability.

“I think it would be irresponsible of me to not lend my voice to this movement in the name of all of the Afro-Latinx people of the world that are the backbone of most of our beautiful cultures all across South America and the Caribbean,” Jauregui exclusively tells Billboard.

As part of Billboard’s “Why I Protest” series, Jauregui, known for hits such as “Expectations” and the Tainy-assisted “Lento,” shares why it matters, more than ever, to stand in solidarity with the black community, and encourages other Latinos to join the fight for justice.

Which protest did you take part in and can you describe your experience?

I protested in Downtown Miami at the Circle of Friendship on Saturday, May 30. Thousands of us in the peaceful protest were gathered in the streets. There were all kinds of people present and prepared to be there for one another. Everyone was wearing masks and people brought backpacks full of water and snacks they would hand out for free. We screamed at the top of our lungs “No Justice, No Peace. NO RACIST POLICE.” We all knelt together in a wave of protest. We walked for 3 and a half hours straight. I went with my younger sister and a few of her friends. We were handed signs at one point by some dope black femmes in the crowd that had some extras. People were tagging the streets with our words of dissent. We marched onto I-95 and against traffic on the highway. There were helicopters and plenty of police on bikes. People were watching out for one another and protecting each other. People were out demanding justice and freedom for all.

I left about 30 minutes before the police began to tear gas and shoot rubber bullets at protestors because as we were rounding back out to where the protest had begun, I noticed the way the police were herding everyone and beginning to show up in heavier gear than the earlier cops. I was with my younger sister and responsible for her and her friends so I listened to my intuition and left. That night, an 8 p.m. curfew was instated. I did not witness not one act of violence. There were two points at which tensions rose between a few protesters and police but other protestors stepped in and de-escalated the situation before it got out of hand. The overall air of the entire moment was one of solidarity, of peace and of a deep-rooted acknowledgment of the need for true justice in this country. One man, Downtown D he told us, jumped on top of his car that he stopped on the ramp to get on the highway and proclaimed how emotional it made him see faces of all races prepared to fight for the black lives lost in vain in this country. He let us know he could feel the change, and we could feel it too. It was one of the most beautiful moments of the day, besides seeing one of the cutest babies I ever did see.

What does it mean to you as a Latinx artist to be involved in the BLM protests?

I believe that any involvement in the Black Lives Matter Movement is involvement for the Latinx community. Although there is much-unaddressed anti-blackness in our communities that stem from the intergenerational traumas of colonialism and the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, on our people we have a duty to have difficult conversations and stand up for our true values as Latinos. Our community is warm, welcoming, hospitable, brave, joyful, generous, caring, and open, yet we often see our closest family members that we know have hearts of gold align themselves with movements or ideologies that do not exemplify said values.

We are a segregated people in the Latinx community and I quite often find my more white-passing Latinx people are quick to side with the oppressive, racist mentality that is perpetuated by US propaganda. I think it would be irresponsible of me to not lend my voice to this movement in the name of all of the Afro-Latinx people of the world that are the backbone of most of our beautiful cultures all across South America and the Caribbean. Their lives matter and I don’t think we acknowledge often enough that there are many black people in the Latinx community that is discriminated against and somehow seemingly supposed to choose their blackness or their Latinx-ness when they coexist in their very existences. We have a lot of work to do as a community but it starts with the uncomfortable conversations at home and in our neighborhoods.

How do you encourage the Latino community to support the Black Lives Matter movement?

I would say to the younger folks that are educated on matters, don’t be afraid to stand up to your racist relatives and educate them about what’s going on. I know most of y’all feel me knowing that your loved ones have beautiful hearts that if given the proper tools and information would not actually agree with what they think they do. And in the same breath, I feel that there are many incredible folks out there in the Latinx community who are doing the grassroots groundwork right now and are vital pieces of these movements. As in any, at the core are the women and I feel there are many, especially out here in Miami, that are feeling more inclined than ever to get involved in a more tangible way. Of course, donating, petition signing & sharing, emailing and calling representatives as well as peaceful protesting if they so choose. Doing something is absolutely necessary at this moment, though.

Can you share a safety tip for attending a protest in times of a pandemic?

I would say to always stay conscious of your surroundings and of escape routes, travel in a buddy system, wear layers of clothing and if you have anything of a protective nature, use it: goggles, gas mask, helmets, etc. Make sure that you have an emergency contact number written somewhere on you in case you get arrested, there are a lot of bailout community efforts going on across the nation. Make sure to research one in your area and have that number written on your arm in case of anything. I would say to film what’s going on but make sure to always blur out the faces of anyone that has not consented to be on camera. Recording things is saving lives and collecting evidence to hold some of these cops accountable (hopefully) at some point but the fact of the matter is that they are being violent whether provoked or not and the occupant in the White House unleashed the force of the military on his own people. So, I would strongly caution against going out to protest unless you are prepared for the potential outcomes of these very real scenarios right now. Be vigilant. Also, milk is good to use as an agent to remove the effects of being maced or pepper-sprayed. Again, be vigilant, stay safe, and protect each other.