Georgia Public Broadcasting’s new series What You Need To Know: Coronavirus provides succinct, fact-based information to help you get through the coronavirus pandemic with your health and sanity intact.

Singer-songwriter Rian Adkinson of Atlanta is one of many artists who has had to stop touring and playing live shows because of the coronavirus pandemic. He talks about how the pandemic is affecting his work and the original song he wrote while sheltering in place.


Rian Adkinson: It just seems like it's always been hard to, like, get the shows and get them booked and get tours book. And for the first time in a very long time, I had this whole, like, world tour thing booked, where I was going to play the states. Then I was going to go overseas and play. And this was all booked and solidified right before the pandemic started.

So I was so happy and so excited. And all of the shows that canceled, every single one. And I was out a very large sum of money because, you know, I was going to take like a band and it was going to be this big thing. And I mean, this is what I do for a living. I don't have another job. I play music. That's what I do. So this is going to be like the big tour that I'd have ever, ever done. So having to cancel that stuff, it kind of — I sank into this deep depression, and I didn't know what I was gonna do.

Luckily, I had people around me who were like, "well, let's think of some more creative ways. You know, something else that you could maybe do while this is going on." And me, the eternal optimist, I'm like, "OK, I'm sure. Let's bring me up. What can we we do so?" So, yes. And we came up with a few things. But, you know, I miss playing live. I miss the connection.

This whole thing, and I've told I told this young band -- like this guy, I don't know, I met him on the street. He was like, "Oh my God, you're Rian Atkinson." I'm like, "who are you? How do you know who I am?" He's like, "Dude, I'm in this band. Like, we're thinking about, like, breaking up and I don't know what to do." And I told him, I said, this thing is survival. Like, we're gonna get through this. Like, this is not the end of the world. This country has been through so much, this world has been through so much and we've gotten through it. And to quit something that's creative, that makes your heart feel better, that keeps you grounded, that keeps you connected-- to stop all that, you know, just because "oh, I can't play a live show." You know, come on. What what? Why are you in this? Are you in it for the right reasons, you know? Are you in this because this is what you want to do? So he looks kind of distraught when I told him that. I was just being honest, I was like, you know, don't give up on this because what's happening now, this should bring bands closer together.

You know, I mean, I'm sure there's gonna be a lot of concept records and a lot of songs about all of this. And I think it's a beautiful -- as strange as the sounds — it is a beautiful time to be a creative person.

The song that... I wrote when the beginning of this whole thing happened, the beginning of the pandemic, I was freaked out. I didn't know what was going on. I'm usually an incredibly open minded person and I don't jump to conclusions. But I was like, "I'm gonna jump to conclusions because it'll make a great song."

So it's dark. It's not lifting in any sort of way. But at the time, when they were talking about bodies piling up and like people were freaking out and all these cities — I don't know, I just sat down and wrote this and it's called Temple.

This is the only thing that I know how to do. Like, I don't think I could pursue another avenue of, like, work other than this. Like, it's the kind of only thing I'm good at. I mean, I went to college for a little while, but, man, no, this is it. Like if I'm homeless and all I have is my guitar, I will sing on the streets. It's it's in my heart. That's all I know.