Let’s raise a glass to Ari Lennox, Anthony Ramos and Crown Royal! A very special partnership is making a way for small performance spaces, restaurants and bars in jeopardy of closing after the economic collapse caused by COVID.
In partnership with The Main Street Alliance, Crown Royal has launched a national relief campaign to help save the bars, stages and clubs impacted by the global pandemic. Crown Royal teamed up with Ari Lennox and Anthony Ramos to recreate the famed song, “If You Want Me to Stay” to raise awareness about the current endangerment of bars in America, and for every stream of the track, Crown Royal will be donating $1 (up to $500,000) to the Main Street Alliance to help support and save the venues in danger of closing due to the global pandemic. Ari and Anthony are also donating their royalties from the song to the cause, and for the next year, both Dreamville/Interscope and Republic Records will match the artists’ royalties with a donation to Main Street Alliance. Once venues begin to reopen, Crown Royal will also provide them with updated point of sale assets, staff training with brand ambassadors and a sustained effort to raise additional charitable funds through sponsored events.
Simply amazing. We had the opportunity to chat with Ari Lennox about this wonderful partnership. Check out her and Anthony’s rendition of the Sly and the Family Stone classic “If You Want Me To Stay,” below, then continue for our convo with Ari!
BOSSIP: How did you get involved with this project?
ARI LENNOX: I guess like blessings, blessings! Crown Royal reached out, they suggested I cover this beautiful song by Sly And The Family Stone with Anthony Ramos and it’s just been a beautiful, beautiful experience.
BOSSIP: What does the cause mean to you?
ARI LENNOX: It means the world to me, because I know that this is a form of therapy. People going to concerts is therapeutic and to be around people and then also to be in these legendary buildings. They’re beautiful, beautiful venues. I think it’s beautiful, Crown Royal is really stepping up and wants to save these venues. I’m grateful because I’m always inspired, each city I would go to during my tour last year I remember falling in love with different venues, just the architecture, the designs on the inside, the art. It just takes so much love to build venues like that. I think we should fight to keep them.
BOSSIP: What was your approach when covering “Stay”?
ARI LENNOX: I wanted to really respect and study Sly And The Family Stone. It’s so important to make sure I do legendary artists justice. I was very serious, Anthony was very serious, about just learning and really studying Sly. We put our all into learning it and then of course performing it. It was so much fun. This was one of the hardest songs I’ve had to cover. Sly is different, he is different, phenomenally so — a genius, so I just wanted to make sure I followed him correctly, but once I got the hang of it, it was like a breeze. The energy was beautiful, because Anthony is so sweet and funny. After awhile we kind of breezed through the track. It was amazing, kind of like a baby party, kinda like. It was fun.
BOSSIP: Karena Evans directs the TV spot for the campaign, what was it like working with her?
ARI LENNOX: First of all, she is legendary in her own right. She is so sweet, has an amazing eye, is extremely creative. She just did the damn thing. I was so inspired to see a young black beautiful woman, inside and out, just killing it. So peacefully and so assertive at the same time. Just a boss. I was so happy she was a part of this because it just made everything more easy. She’s just good vibes. Everybody was great.
BOSSIP: What’s your favorite Crown Royal of choice?
ARI LENNOX: Peach — all day — is amazing! Warm or cold. It is the most phenomenal thing I’ve ever tasted. I’m not even lying. I don’t understand why it tastes that good. It’s annoying why it tastes that good. You don’t need no chaser. No mixer or anything. Peach Crown Royal is phenomenal.
BOSSIP: What’s been the most challenging part of the pandemic for you?
ARI LENNOX: Probably realizing that I can’t help as much, as I would like, with family and friends if I don’t help myself. I’ve realized I’ve been giving and giving and giving. No one is filling my cup and I need to do that. I need to love on me. That’s kinda what’s been going on. Just been enjoying loving myself, pampering myself and being kind to myself. It’s so easy to be mean, sometimes to you, but this has been a time when we have no choice but to be still. So I’ve been still and really just self-reflecting.
BOSSIP: It’s funny you should say that because one song of yours that resonates for us is “Self Love” with Baby Rose.
ARI LENNOX: Shout out to Baby Rose, she is a legend, she killed that record, the writing, the singing. I’m honored that I could be a part of that. Those words are literally how I’m feeling today. One of my favorite songs, like ever. Shout out to Baby Rose for changing my life. That woman is anointed and really knows just lyrically how to, I don’t know, anoint.
BOSSIP: What’s the first show you want to do post-COVID? What city? What venue?
ARI LENNOX: I love so many venues, so I can’t single out one, but, I know for a fact when outside opens I’m trying to perform in Washington, D.C. need that to happen. I need to perform for my people. I need to feel that love. It’s a love I can’t compare to anywhere else. D.C. hands down.
You can help Crown Royal support these landmark venues by listening to the remake of “If You Want Me to Stay” on all major streaming platforms HERE. To learn more about this relief effort, visit crownroyal.com.