Watch SZA, H.E.R., Lil Baby & more play the virtual Roots Picnic
Philadelphia's 13th Annual Roots Picnic went virtual this year, happening in collaboration with Michelle Obama's When We All Vote nonprofit organization this past Saturday, June 27th.
Throughout the roughly 2-hour event, the Picnic featured a star-studded lineup of participants, including Janelle Monáe, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington, Liza Koshy, Chris Paul, Elaine Welteroth, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Deon Cole, Coach K, Wallo267, and Ghetto Gastrof, and performances from H.E.R., Lil Baby, Roddy Ricch, Kirk Franklin, Snoh Aalegra, D-Nice, Polo G, G Herbo, Musiq Soulchild, Earthgang, and, of course, The Roots.
To kick off the evening, Michelle Obama (alongside fellow hosts Questlove and Black Thought) gave a short speech, urging viewers to take action and participate in this year's upcoming election. "These past few months have been pretty heavy for just about everyone and the truth is, we still got our work cut out for us in the weeks and months ahead," she said. "I want to remind everybody that we got an election coming up and it couldn't be more important that everybody makes their voice be heard this time around."
"We may not all sound like SZA or Kirk Franklin, but we all deserve to have our voices heard at the ballot box come November," she concluded, encouraging viewers to check out her organization's website for more information.
Speaking of SZA, we're still waiting for a follow-up to 2017's excellent CTRL, and to hold us over while we wait, she delivered a rendition of "Normal Girl," her vocals isolated alongside a single acoustic guitarist.
Another show highlight came from H.E.R., who graced audiences with a two-song medley, live from a socially distant studio. She began with a powerful acoustic version of her emotionally-heavy new song, "I Can't Breathe," transitioning into an electric rendition of her track, "Fate."
Lil Baby's set was also powerful, as he accompanied a performance of his new protest-themed single, "The Bigger Picture," with a backdrop of protest images in remembrance of George Floyd and other Black people whose lives have been lost due to police brutality.
The entire event's livestream (as well as pre-show stream) have been archived on The Roots' YouTube channel, and you can view both streams below. Additionally, you can purchase a limited edition T-shirt in commemoration of this year's virtual Picnic via the event's merch store. It'll be available to purchase until this Friday, July 5th.
Also announced on Saturday was the official date and location for 2021's Roots Picnic. It's scheduled for June 5th at TD Pavilion at The Mann at Fairmount Park. Stay tuned for more details.