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GRiZmas goes virtual, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Saturday, December 12, 2020

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A Christmas season with GRiZmas?

Perish the thought!

During the past seven years Southfield-raised musician GRiZ's The 12 Days of GRiZmas has become a holiday fixture in the Detroit metro area, with clever and creative activities and ending with blowout concerts at the Masonic Temple (and after parties at the Majestic Complex). GRiZ (real name Grant Kwiecinski) has also raised money for charity -- including more than $200,000 during 2018 and 2019 for the non-profit youth program Seven Mile.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, GRiZmas goes virtual this year, via Twitch, starting with a Killer Crafts & Cocktails night on Saturday, Dec. 12 and wrapping up Dec. 23 with an eight-hour Digital Charity Festival featuring a two-hour set from GRiZ and performances by a lineup of global guests. In between will be more music, trivia completions, yoga, a Family Board Game Night and even cookie-baking with GRiZ's mother, who now lives in Ohio.

It's yet another different way to spend a tradition, but GRiZmas will be giving plenty to those who truly love it...

• GRiZ -- who graduated from Birmingham Groves High School and attended Michigan State University -- acknowledges that for awhile he didn't think GRiZmas would happen at all this year but was swayed by fans of his music and the event. "I do understand the impact of it but I didn't understand until this year, maybe, how much this meant to people," he says by phone from Denver, where he now resides. "When it was looking like it wasn't going to happen, I can't tell you how may people tweeted at me or sent me (direct messages) saying how much it was bumming them out. So we made a decision that, 'We're gonna do this. We're gonna do what we can and not give up on our community.' So here we are. And the announcement went so well; People were just overjoyed they can participate and have some piece of what we have in person."

• He adds that initially he "wasn't very excited about this. I was like, 'I want to do the shows! I want to do these events in person!' That's what gives me the most joy, is to bring people together. So the idea of doing a virtual GRiZmas, I was like, 'I'm not buying it.' But because we've been able to rethink almost all the events, it brought so much new energy into the programming of it, I got excited. It's going to be such a bright light in a very dark, dull time for a lot of people."

• A silver lining of the virtual event, of course, is that a global audience will have access to the festivities. "I think the international community sees (GRiZmas) as a Detroit-focused thing. Our charity is Detroit-focused. So opening this up to a larger Internet community, which is really the global community, it really gives us an opportunity to think outside the box and include more people and bring it to more people's doorsteps." He's particularly happy that the Global Mic Night on Dec. 16 will draw from a larger body of artists and that he can incorporate more guests into the closing night Digital Charity Festival.

• Quarantine, meanwhile, has been a "dynamic" creative time for GRiZ, including three new singles released this year. Those include "Medusa," which he released during Pride Month in June and is the most direct "gay anthem" he feels he's released so far. "It's not really a political thing. It's not like a protest song -- 'I'm here and I'm queer and here to stay!' I'm not trying to bust down doors. I just wanted to make a song that felt dope for gay kids to be like, 'Oh, that's relatable. That's my story. That's my world. This is my song, my words. This s my vibe.' It's just a fun banging, unapologetically gay song. It's cool."

• GRiZ turned 30 in May, and 2020 marks 10 years since his first national release, "End of the World Party." His perspective? "It's weird to put the decade title on it, because I'm not looking back and my career and thinking, 'Wow, what an accomplishment!' I don't think 10 years really means that. I am so grateful for having this career and these accomplishments. But I continually feel like I'm onto something where the work’s never done. It's not about finishing work -- it's about doing work. That's where the GRiZ thing exists, just doing the work and keeping it moving."

The 12 Days of GRiZmas 2020 begins Saturday, Dec. 12 and runs through Dec. 23 via twitch.tv/mynameisgriz. Details and updates can be found at 12daysofgrizmas.com.

The full schedule includes:

12/12 - Killer Crafts & Cocktails

12/13 - Holiday Jazz Stream with GRiZ & Friends

12/14 - Digital Charity Auction

12/15 - Bake Cookies with Mama GRiZ

12/16 - Global Mic Night

12/17 - Serve Our Community Day

12/18 - Team Trivia Day

12/19 - Snow Day

12/20 - Community Yoga Day

12/21 - Kulabunga Activity Day

12/22 - Family Board Game Night

12/23 - GRiZMAS Digital Charity Festival

Web Site: www.12DaysofGrizmas.com

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