Few songs are as evocative of the sights, sounds and spirit of New York City as “New York State of Mind,” the iconic 1976 number from Billy Joel’s “Turnstiles” album. Over the years, it’s become a symbol of the city’s resilience during hard times, such as after the September 11th attacks and Superstorm Sandy. Now, the song represents the city’s fresh start, after 16 months in which it was crippled by the pandemic.

The volunteer group NYC Next has just released a stirring video featuring a cover version of Joel’s song by an all-star crew of performers with ties to the city, including Tony Award winners LaChanze, Idina Menzel, Kelli O’Hara and Brian Stokes Mitchell, as well as singers Sara Bareilles and Suzanne Vega, among others. Each performer filmed their part at a different section of the city; Late-night host Stephen Colbert — who held his own against some Broadway heavyweights, we must say — filmed his on the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theater in Midtown. pianist Chloe Flower and LaChanze shot their scenes atop the Steinway & Co. factory in Queens, Peppermint was filmed at Columbia University;

The video is meant to be a pep talk to the city as it slows climbs out of the dark hole of the past year and a half.

From concerts to nightclubs, restaurants and especially Broadway, the return of the cultural scene to the Big Apple is seen as an essential component of the city’s recovery.

NYC Homecoming Week is a slate of events planned by the city to mark the occasion. The centerpiece is the Saturday, August 21, “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert” on the Great Lawn in Central Park headlined by Paul Simon, Jennifer Hudson, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith and others.

There are some who believe the city should rethink its reopening. The big Central Park concert as well the return of theater and other entertainment options were planned months ago, as the threat of COVID seemed to be waning as the vaccines became available. But that has changed in recent weeks, as the delta variant has led to a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections.

Mayor Bill De Blasio says the city is taking all the proper precautions to ensure safety, and notes that 100,000 New Yorkers were vaccinated last week, a surge of more than 30% from the previous week.

More than two-thirds of the city’s residents are fully vaccinated and three-quarters of the population have received at least the first dose. In addition, the city on September 13 will become the first American city to mandate proof of vaccination if you want to dine indoors, go to a gym or attend a concert.