Miguel delivered an intimate, acoustic three-song set in the living room of a Detroit family as part “Concerts for the 1st,” a new series from Make Room. The organization is dedicated to raising awareness of low-income families struggling to pay rising rents while facing wage stagnation.
The R&B singer opened his three-song set with a rendition of “Coffee,” off his latest LP Wildheart, which he preempted with a quick speech: “I grew up in a single parent family, and my mom often struggled. I would see her work really hard, come home and be tired, and give everything she had to us. So it’s really cool to be able to, hopefully, let you know that people are paying attention.” The performance found Miguel sporting a cheeky, self-aware grin as he sang the song’s risqué lyrics in a family’s living room.
Miguel also delivered a charming performance of “Adorn” — the breakout track from 2012’s Kaleidoscope Dream — for Devona Rollins, a 46-year-old single mother, and her friends and family. Accompanied by just a guitar, Miguel sounded soulful and sweet as ever, gleefully encouraging background vocals from the assembled crowd.
The singer wrapped up the set with a performance of Wildheart‘s “What’s Normal Anyway,” a track exploring the myriad questions of identity and self that arose from growing up half-black and half-Latino.
“It was a powerful and surreal experience that I’ll never forget,” Rollins tells Rolling Stone. “Miguel connected with us, sharing his personal story about growing up with a single mom facing financial struggles, and showed me that we are not alone. The kids and my friends loved the performance and they haven’t stopped talking about it. It helped shine a light on the rental crisis.”
“With rents increasing and wages stagnating around the country, one in four families that rent have to spend more than half of their monthly income on housing, leaving millions of working families and seniors on the brink of homelessness,” Angela Boyd, managing director of the Make Room campaign, adds. “This crisis is happening behind closed doors and isn’t on the agendas of our nation’s leaders. Make Room is shining a spotlight on the 11 million families in America that struggle to make rent on the first of every month.”
Boyd was inspired by the “rent parties” of the Harlem Renaissance, in which jazz musicians performed in living rooms while neighbors chipped in money to help families make rent. “Our Concerts for the 1st are the rent parties of the digital age,” Boyd says. “Musicians are terrific allies in sparking a movement to end the rental housing crisis. Having grown up with a single parent, Miguel connects to the daily tradeoffs families face to make rent and is lending his voice to help drive change. This issue should be top of mind in Congress, state houses, city halls and presidential campaigns.”
Miguel’s performance was the fourth in Make Room’s “Concert for the 1st” series, which began in May with Carly Rae Jepsen opened performing in the living room of a Los Angeles family. The series has also featured singer Timothy Bloom in Paterson, New Jersey and rock outfit John and Jacob in Nashville. Each concert is accompanied by a short documentary about the host family, as well as links to directly donate to them.