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OU graduate, Tulsa artist uses social media to host live music sessions during self-isolation

John Calvin Abney

A photo of the artist taken by Dylan Johnson.

Every Wednesday, a Tulsa artist tunes in from his living room for live music sessions on Facebook and Instagram.

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist John Calvin Abney has hosted livestreams from isolation on Facebook and Instagram every Wednesday since March 18 during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“There is a blossoming of community coming from all of this, and I feel like musicians and artists can do their part to help quell anxiety,” said Abney, a 2012 OU anthropology graduate. “The main reason why I’m doing livestreams right now is because I hate feeling alone, and I don’t want anyone else to feel that way.”

Abney has performed with John Moreland, a singer-songwriter from Tulsa, and Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, an Alabama rock-n-roll band. He has released an EP, “Vice Versa Suite,” and three albums: “Far Cries and Close Calls” “Coyote” and “Safe Passage” released in September 2019.

As a full-time touring musician, Abney has canceled all his performances this summer because of the outbreak.

Abney interacts with his livestream audiences of hundreds as he would any other audience. He sings, plays music, tells jokes and talks to those tuning in every week.

“People just want to be connected, and this is the best way we can do it right now, and the smartest way to do it,” Abney said.

Using a guitar, harmonica, piano and his voice, Abney performs his own songs as well as songs requested from fans. Abney said he’ll continue hosting live sessions until isolation ends.

Abney is also sending letters to his fans. Fans can send Abney their addresses in a direct message and he’ll send them words of encouragement, lyrics, poems or an old photograph to help them during isolation.

For Abney, it’s all about the fans. He said he just misses hanging out with listeners and wants to be a beacon of hope for them.

“It could be five people, it could be 500 people, it could be 5,000 people — I just want to put something out there,” Abney said. “Even if it’s miniscule and pointless to human history, I want to be there every Wednesday and have a voice someone can count on.

Abney goes live every Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Facebook and 8:30 p.m. on Instagram. Listeners can tune in live or watch the performance later when he posts the videos on Facebook.

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