Reggae superstar Buju Banton will be barred from recording any new materials if he is sent to a United States (US) federal prison when he is sentenced in a Florida court tomorrow.
However, Buju, whose real name is Mark Myrie, might not have to cut off his trademark dreadlocks and will be allowed to practise his Rastafarian beliefs under strict supervision.
Chris Burke, a public affairs specialist at the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, DC, said federal prison guidelines bar inmates from conducting "business activities" while they are incarcerated, but added that they do not "normally" require inmates to remove body hair.
Burke said a number of federal prisons have music programmes that include instruments which inmates are allowed to play, but made it clear that recording equipment is banned from these facilities.
"It (recording music) is on our list of prohibited activities for which inmates are subject to disciplinary action," he wrote in an emailed response to The Gleaner.
The bureau is the agency responsible for the custody and care of inmates being held in the 116 federal prisons in the US.
Buju was convicted in February on three of four federal drug and gun charges in the US Middle District Court, Florida Division, in Tampa.
He faces 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced tomorrow.
There has been concern that Buju, who converted to the Rastafarian faith in 1994 after the death of his friend, dreadlocked reggae artiste, Garnett Silk, could lose his locks if he is sent to a federal prison.
US-based Jamaican law professor David Rowe triggered those concerns when he pointed out that US federal circuit courts are split over whether Rastafarians in custody should submit to prison grooming regulations.
He pointed to two cases (Gartrell v Ashcroft and Hines v South Carolina) where the courts upheld federal prison grooming policies to cut excessively long beards and hair.
In another case, however - Benjamin v Coughlin - the court ruled that a Rastafarian was not required to cut his dreadlocks for a prison photograph.
A US circuit court has also suggested that, if necessary, the federal government's prohibition of dreadlocks should be upheld for security reasons.
However, Burke emphasised that the bureau recognises the Rastafarian faith as a religion, and insisted that the agency does not force inmates to cut their hair.
In addition, he said arrangements about religious diets are discussed with inmates.
According to the bureau's website, the agency does not require inmates to indicate their religious beliefs.
The website said inmates may designate any or no religious preference during their initial screening.
That can, however, be changed at any time by notifying the chaplain in writing.
The Rastafarian movement began in Jamaica in the 1920s.
The Rastafarian lifestyle usually includes the ritual use of marijuana, the wearing of dreadlocks, and vegetarianism.
Buju Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, could face up to life in prison if convicted.
Reggae star's pretrial release at own expense raises questions
TAMPA - Buju Banton is spending more than $20,000 a month to stay out of jail while he awaits his retrial on drug trafficking charges.
That's how much Banton's lawyer says a private security company is charging to watch the Jamaican reggae singer around the clock – a condition of his bail set by U.S. Magistrate Anthony Porcelli.
The security guards are not there to protect the singer, who is also required to stay in his South Florida home with electronic monitoring. Rather, they are required to ensure Banton doesn't flee the country.
Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, could face up to life in prison if convicted. He spent 11 months in the Pinellas County Jail following his arrest last year and was released only after a jury deadlocked in his first trial in September.
His retrial is scheduled for February.
Banton is not the first federal defendant allowed to remain free before trial under conditions amounting to what some describe as a privately financed prison.
Most notably, Bernard Madoff stayed out of jail after his arrest in a massive Ponzi scheme, holed up in his swanky Manhattan home with security guards paid for by his wife.
Another New York Ponzi scheme defendant, lawyer Marc Dreier, was released from jail pending the outcome of his case after his relatives agreed to pay $70,000 a month for private security guards.
And in Tampa, 79-year-old family therapist Charles Jackson Friedlander avoided jail pending trial after the court accepted a proposal by his lawyer that he be guarded by retired law enforcement officers.
Friedlander was later sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for trying to beat and sexually molest two prepubescent boys whose father he met on the Internet.
Allowing defendants to gain pretrial release by paying for private security is an example of the justice system giving advantages to the wealthy, said Robert Batey, a professor at Stetson University College of Law.
"I do think there are obvious problems," Batey said. "People with a lot of money can do better in the legal system."
But Friedlander's attorney said the security arrangement was good for the defendant and the government.
"There's no doubt that he would be in jail if he couldn't afford private security," George Tragos said. "Somebody has to pay for that pretrial supervision, and I would rather the person charged with the crime pay for it than my tax dollars."
Pinellas County charges the federal government $80 a day to incarcerate pretrial detainees, sheriff's spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said. That's less than one-eighth the amount Banton says he is now paying for his private security detail.
To help pay for Banton's security, as well as for his legal defense and other expenses, lawyer David Oscar Markus got court approval for the four-time Grammy nominee to perform in concert in Miami, likely in December or January.
Porcelli denied the request, citing his concern about the risk Banton might flee. Markus appealed to U.S. District Judge James Moody, who granted permission after Markus provided an affidavit from the security company detailing how the singer would be guarded during the concert.
Banton's manager, Tracii McGregor, said, "There has been a lot of talk about benefit concerts" by other musicians to raise money for Banton. But, for now, the focus is on the planned show.
McGregor said Banton has experienced financial hardship as a result of his incarceration.
"He is a family man with children who have school fees and numerous other expenses to be paid," she said in an e-mail via Markus. "He has a full band (and tech staff) who have played with him exclusively for 15 plus years and who rely on his steady stream of international bookings for their own incomes."
Two men indicted along with Banton, including the singer's driver, have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Banton maintains he was set up by a well-paid government informant. But prosecutors argued during his trial that recorded conversations showed Banton was an experienced cocaine trafficker who was trying to invest in another deal.
Dick Carelli, spokesman for the nation's federal courts, said requiring defendants to hire security details as a condition of bail is rare but not unheard of. It's authorized by federal statute, which requires judges to set conditions of pretrial release that ensure the safety of the community and that defendants don't flee.
Carelli said it's highly unusual for the arrangement to be proposed by a judge – as in Banton's case – rather than by the defense or prosecution.
Stetson's Batey said the arrangement highlights a troubling issue.
"This is a problem that affects the criminal justice system from beginning to end," he said. "Rich people do better."
Judge Denies Buju Banton’s Request To Perform At Live Concert
Dancehall/reggae artiste Buju Banton, who has been out on bail but under house arrest pending retrial in February 2011 on drug conspiracy charges, apparently made an application to perform at a live concert in Miami on December 26, but this request was denied by U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli yesterday. The judge reportedly said that whatever financial pressures Banton faces do not outweigh the risk that he might flee.
According to Banton’s lawyer, the artiste’s designated security detail does not object to him doing the concert, and would be present for the show. His lawyer reportedly asked the judge to reconsider, saying the 24-hour security detail ordered to monitor Banton as a condition of his release costs a hefty US$20,000 a month, not to mention the cost of preparing for his upcoming retrial. In other words, Banton needs to earn some money, and this concert would’ve been a good way to do so.
A government-led crackdown on violent and explicit sexual lyrics seems to have stalled reggae music's 20-year slide into what has been dubbed "murder music".
Nineteen months after Jamaica's Broadcasting Commission banned from the airwaves all songs with violent and explicit sexual lyrics, dancehall stars have begun changing the messages in their music - lyrics that once promoted guns, violence and sex now preach love, harmony and righteous living.
The Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica's (BCJ) ban in February 2009 included versions of the offending recordings that employed "editing techniques of bleeping or beeping of its original content". Together with police enforcement of the Noise Abatement Act, and rigorous monitoring of live performances, performers' use of vulgar and aggressive language has virtually disappeared.
While BCJ supporters applaud the success, some speculate that recent gun attacks on prominent artists, and show and visa cancellations worldwide have also been contributing factors. In May, O'Neil Edwards from the reggae group Voicemail was shot and killed. In an unrelated incident a day later, Ewart Brown, stage name Mad Cobra, was also shot numerous times, although he survived.
"The people say that some of us big up in the music are responsible. This is an indicator that we need to stop it," dancehall sing-jay Clifford "Mr. Vegas" Smith told journalists at a prayer vigil for Edwards. Since its beginnings in the late 1960s, reggae has mirrored the social conscience of the inner city poor. In recent years, the celebration of violence and an escalation of graphic sexual commentary have made dancehall reggae an affront to religious and gay communities.
Religious groups blame dancehall music for social decline and rising murder rates. Gay groups dubbed it "murder music" because anti-gay lyrics often suggested killing homosexuals, and led a vigorous campaign against its biggest stars.
The long-running campaign against anti-gay lyrics caused some show cancellations in Britain and various U.S. cities, but promoters simply shifted their attention to the Caribbean, Europe and Japan in response to rising popularity of the music. Fast-forward to 2010: the airwaves are again buzzing with calls for social regeneration, peace and unity, reminiscent of the Bob Marley era.
University of the West Indies' reggae studies lecturer Donna Marquis Hope noted that the standoff between the U.S. and Jamaican authorities over the extradition of alleged drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke may have had more of a profound impact on the transformation of the music than either the pullout of live reggae music's biggest sponsor Red Stripe or the gay lobby.
"Red Stripe was certainly not missed as several other sponsors, large and small, stepped into the vacuum created by Red Stripe's precipitous move in 2008," Hope said.
Thwarted in its attempts to extradite Tivoli Garden strongman Coke, the United States revoked the visas of prominent Jamaicans, among them reggae stars Beenie Man, whose real name is Moses Davis, Rodney "Bounty Killer" Price, Sheldon Lawrence also known as Aidonia and David "Mavado" Brooks. Coupled with the December 2009 arrest of Mark "Buju Banton" Myrie, promoters complained of an air of "uncertainty" regarding the booking of reggae artists.
California's Annual Seabreeze Festival was postponed in July because organisers were uncertain of "guaranteeing artist performance". Industry sources say the U.S. market accounts for between a third and one half of the reggae shows these artists depend on.
Dancehall's troubles escalated further in 2009 when, several Caribbean countries instituted their own broadcast bans, expressing concern about the effects they say the music has on their own populations. Many including Grenada, Barbados, Guyana and St. Lucia denied some prominent performers work permits. "Enough is enough," Barbados' Education Minister Ronald Jones told reporters in March, after Jamaican artists Adijah Palmer also known Vybz Kartel and "Mavado" Brooks were denied permission to perform on the island. Jones insisted that there was a link between dancehall music and the increasingly aggressive behaviour of young Barbadians.
Palmer's 'Ramping Shop', a duet in which he and female deejay Grace "Spice" Hamilton explicitly described a sexual encounter, is identified as the last straw that initiated the BCJ ban. Palmer is also the second half of the Gaza vs. Gully lyrical duel with self-proclaimed "gangster" Brooks, which pitted fans and communities against each other in 2009.
Fears that the row could set off gang warfare prompted the intervention of Prime Minister Bruce Golding. Gaza is the nickname Palmer gave to his working-class community of Waterford in Portmore, St Catherine. Brooks hails from Gully, a poverty-stricken community in Cassava Piece, Kingston.
These days in addition to guaranteeing acts, local promoters are culpable for the performances. The Noise Abatement Act imposes strict shutdown times for street dances, entertainment events and political meetings and makes promoters liable for the actions of performers at events they stage. Music executives like Johnny Gourzong now make it a contractual obligation for artists to avoid the use of profanity and the singling out of certain groups. "We have already set out what they should not be doing, and in addition, we sent them a letter which reinforced it," said Gourzong, the executive producer of the annual Reggae Sumfest, at the start of the weeklong festival in July. The fraternity is already seeing the benefits of the 'clean up'. When Reggae Sumfest 2010 opened in Jamaica's second city Montego Bay on Jul. 23, Red Stripe was back on board as a title sponsor after a two-year hiatus.
CaribWorldNews, Queens, NY, Mon. July 19, 2010: The global economic recession has claimed another victim – this time a top reggae festival in New York.
Producers of the annual Irie Jamboree, one of the top reggae festivals in the U.S., said Friday they made the agonizing decision to forgo the seventh annual staging this year, citing the recession as one of the key factors.
They also blamed the recent U.S. visa cancellation of a number of Jamaican reggae and dancehall artists, including Beenie Man, Movado and Bounty Killer, and the incarceration of both Buju Banton and Ninjaman, as another key factor in the decision to postpone this year`s event.
Irie Jam radio, which organizes the annual event, also claimed a recent city order which calls for events in area parks to be concluded by 8 p.m. (EST) has put tremendous pressure on promoters since Irie Jamboree is generally scheduled to end at 10 p.m.
`We will instead focus our resources on planning for the 2011 festival on Labor Day Sunday and promise another spectacular, exciting presentation then, the organizers added.
NEW YORK - Irie Jamboree, North America’s premier reggae festival will not be held this year. The executive team made the agonizing decision to forgo the seventh annual staging this year. We will instead focus our resources on planning for the 2011 festival on Labor Day Sunday and promise another spectacular, exciting presentation then.
To set the record straight about why this beloved annual concert was forced into hiatus this year, we list 5 reasons that are the cold facts.
There's a well known adage in the Caribbean that "if America sneezes, the Caribbean gets a cold". This has never been more severely evidenced than over the past few years as the economic recession being experienced by the U.S. economy has had a grueling disproportionate effect on the diaspora Caribbean community. The average Caribbean family has seen an average 20% to 30% decrease in household income when compared to last year, this according to New York State's most recent unemployment data. As families strive to meet their basic needs, oftentimes under conditions of lost or reduced income, "disposable income" is slowly becoming an extinct concept. Families face the challenge of striving for economic survival in this insecure economy, while still facing the added burden of having to contribute support to family members back home who are also struggling to make ends meet. Where possible, saving for an unsure future is the prevailing mindset of most Caribbean households of the day. The sensitivity of these issues is not lost to us the organizers of Irie Jamboree, on having examined the possibility of reducing the entrance charge for the event we recognize that we would be unable to host the event without absorbing a significant deficit in 2010. Our access charges policy over the past 7 years has always dictated that we endeavor to keep admission to the concert at minimum cost to patrons.
Artists visa cancellation/incarceration
To restate the obvious, while Reggae is an entire philosophy, the heart of reggae is the music; the soul of reggae is that of the artists' expressions. Reggae artists whose inspiring performances are usually at the core of any successful festival, have been affected by a number of well-publicized events that will hinder the delivery of an event that meets the usual high standards of an Irie Jamboree type, and the equally lofty inherent expectations of its concert goers. Primary among these are visa revocations and artistes incarcerations. Buju Banton- Incarcerated; Beenie Man-No Visa; Bounty Killer-No Visa; Busy Signal-No Visa; Movado-No Visa; Vybz Kartel-No Visa; Ninjaman- Incarcerated; Jah Cure-No Visa; Sizzla-No Visa and Luciano-No Visa.
Labor Day weekend is at the height of the NYC tourist season. Recreational and entertainment events during this period, including the staging of Irie Jamboree, positively impact the economy by generating millions in revenue for the city as thousands of people flock to the area to experience the best of Caribbean culture. The apparent (albeit debatable) absence of true regard for the contribution of the Caribbean Community to the economy by U.S. governing authorities is a matter of grave concern to the community at large. As a group, the Caribbean business community has been vocal about the visa/travel issue. This is a serious matter that we will continue to actively advocate through appropriate avenues as we invite discussions with the relevant authorities in order to ascertain conditions of the visa revocation process and opportunities for possibly reinstating travel privileges. This situation is becoming more dire and needs to be properly addressed so that fair and prompt resolution can be hopefully achieved. Meanwhile, we the organizers of Irie Jamboree continue to hold artistes to account for upholding a moral and ethical compass that will ensure standards of behavior that are respectful and compliant with the laws of varied governing jurisdictions.
The 8pm Shutdown
Irie Jamboree is staged at the Roy Wilkins Park in Queens. The New York City mayor's office through the 113th precinct in Queens, has issued orders for events in area parks to be concluded by 8pm (EST). This puts tremendous pressure on particular promoters. The event is generally scheduled to end at 10pm. It is unreasonable to expect the team of professionals who plan and organize the concert, and whose resources are already strained to terminate the show at 10pm even under the best of circumstances. This 8pm cut off equates to nothing short of production suicide. Additionally, to limit performances in order to meet this timeline represents a gross disservice to patrons and artists alike of the event, and significantly affects a critical subscribing feature that has been created for Irie Jamboree, the reputable "brand" by which it is now widely known and respected.
The overall climate in the Industry
Overall, the reggae industry is at an all time low. The music seems to have become relatively stagnant. Those promoters (particularly in the North-east) who have ventured to host outdoor events these past 2 years have reported significant losses due primarily to unprecedented low attendance numbers. Amongst other salient reasons, not unlike what Jamaica's Usain Bolt did for the sport of track & field, the music industry needs to be potently re-energized; an adrenalin shot of sorts. Irie Jamboree is one of the many casualties of the arguably recent lull in the music, and by extension the industry at large that breathes life into it.
Irie Jamboree is produced as a collaborative effort together with valued partners whose sponsorship support is critical to its successful staging each year. Staging the number one reggae concert in the Northeast USA is amongst other things a very costly undertaking. All (not a few) but ALL traditional corporate sponsors of these type events have at best, dramatically slashed their marketing budgets, if not totally eliminating them. Irie Jamboree has not been spared the ravages of these budgetary realignments, not the least of which has been the recent acquisition of Air Jamaica by Caribbean Airlines which has resulted in the loss of one of the event's greatest allies.
Recent upheaval in Western Kingston borne of the events surrounding the extradition of Christopher "Dudus" Coke to the United States is an international incident that has had a plethora of adverse ripple effects throughout the Diaspora, and implications across economies, from which very few have emerged unscathed.
Suffice it to say that this has deemed this 2010 as being a less than opportune year for the concert promoting business. That said, we remain confident that Irie Jamboree 2011 will continue the trend in being the best, and most celebrated reggae concert in North America.
As we make plans for the 2011 staging of Irie Jamboree, we are hopeful that the Government of Jamaica will see the need to allocate a portion of the US$10 million for Jamaican festivals in the Diaspora. This money we are told is earmarked for the tourism sector to be used to improve Jamaica's image in the post "Dudus" disaster.
Fact is that international festivals like Irie Jamboree has opportunities for valuable public relations exposure for Jamaica. The festival boast a solid track record of quality production and enjoys popular support in the community. Like the Jamaica Jazz & Blues festival that received US$40,000 a few years ago from the JTB, Irie Jamboree is well positioned and can continue to help to promote Jamaica's music and culture. The success and longevity of this festival will go a long way in helping to repair Jamaica's tarnished image in New York, regard as the media capital of the world.
Not really, but who needs to tell the truth when you can make funny videos!
Buju Banton is one of the biggest names in dancehall music. He’s been making records for over 20 years, some of his undeniably great music has made him one of the biggest stars in Jamaica, and regarded by many as a voice for the poor majority.
Unfortunately, he’s also a violent homophobe. LGBT rights groups around the world have picketed his shows and called on promoters not to book him because of his anti-gay tunes. The most significant is ‘Boom Bye Bye,’ which is basically about killing LGBT people. It advocates shooting, burning and pouring acid as methods.
Many of his defenders claim that he was still a teenager when he released this tune in 1992, and he’s since moved on and doesn’t perform it any more. The truth is that Banton knows that it’s controversial, and so he’s careful about when he performs it because it can potentially get him in trouble. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t do it though, with his mike being cut off at a 2007 show in New York when he began the song.
It would be one thing if his hatred of LGBT people was confined to records, but it’s not. Several witnesses have identified him as part of a mob that broke into a home in Kingston in 2004 shouting homophobic insults, and then beat two men severely, leaving one of them blind in one eye.
Banton denies the claims, and the police have yet to charge him in connection with the attack. But the Jamaican police are notorious for the lack of care for violence against LGBT people, as homosexuality remains completely illegal in Jamaica and punishable by prison with hard labour.
Buju Banton himself is currently in US prison after being charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine last year. But in the meantime, his homophobic lyrics continue to be a rallying cry for hate, which is why the Eclectic Method have put together this little video to set the record straight:
The recent cancellation of US visas of the abovementioned artistes (except for Sizzla, in whose case the cancellation was not recent, as the visa was revoked in 1998) sent shock waves throughout and outside of the music fraternity, as many wonder who will be the next victim.
At first glance it seems to have been done in an almost callous way and this is surely cause for concern. An email advisory was sent to all the airlines who carry passengers to the US with the instructions not to board the artistes as their visas were in the process of being revoked. The artistes themselves claim they had no knowledge that that such a move was afoot and the US embassy, as expected, has no comment, as this is a matter between them and the individual artiste.
However, is this to be seen as an advisory, pending some investigation on the embassy's part and at the end of the day a second advisory will be issued to countermand the first?
"The fact is that the artistes, as far as I know still have visas in their passports. The visas have not yet been stamped "cancelled without prejudice" or "cancelled with prejudice", so perhaps the US was just being generous by advising the artistes not to travel at this time. We have to examine the wording carefully," was artiste manager Patrick Robert's' take on the situation.
He, however, admitted that he was shocked by last week Wednesday's announcement that the visas of four of the top dancehall acts were "in the process of being revoked".
"But any way you look at it, this is bad," Roberts said. "What is a reggae festival anywhere in the States without Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Mavado, Aidonia and Sizzla? And then there is Buju who is behind bars in the US."
The artistes had both their work permits and the visitor's visa revoked and the fact is that most artistes use the US as a hub. Without a visitor's visa they are now unable to use Miami as a connection port into other parts of the world. Artistes, like it or not, also have entourages and numerous persons to take care of. These artistes are among the top earners and shutting them down will certainly affect more than just them and their immediate families.
As the summer approaches, the next couple of month is usually their busiest periods as they travel to festival all across the US to earn their living. Many are asking why and why now? It is felt that the stand-off between Washington and Kingston is playing a role in this unfolding saga. Interestingly, both Beenie Man and Bounty Killer had a show in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday and their absence, according to informed sources, was a big blow to the promoter. It was to be the first time that the two would have performed on the same stage in Orlando.
According to Roberts, in all his 17 years of managing Beenie Man, he has never had a visa issue with the US government. "We have always had our work permits renewed without any problems," he emphasised.
And, as the artistes grapple with the way forward, Beenie Man has already released a visa song which will no doubt strike a responsive chord with all and sundry.
23 VENUES CANCELED! BUJU BANTON MANAGED TO PERFORM IN 32 VENUES
Buju Banton (born Mark Anthony Myrie 1973) is a Jamaican dancehall, ragga, and reggae singer. In 1988, at age 15, he recorded, “Boom Bye Bye” [re-released in 1992] with anti-gay lyrics celebrating the brutal execution of faggots by shooting them in the head with an uzi, pouring acid on their skin and burning them like tires. Banton continues to profit from and perform this song in 2009.
On June 24, 2004, six men where driven from their home on Carlisle Avenue in Kingston and beaten by armed assailants calling the victims “battymen” (slang for gays). Buju Banton was one of the alleged attackers as documented by human rights groups and verified by Amnesty International. The case was dismissed in 2006, however, because homosexuality is a crime in Jamaica, the police fail to protect LGBT people from hate crimes and fully prosecute those who commit them.
In 2007, Buju Banton signed the Reggae Compassionate Act (RCA), to refrain from performing homophobic songs, but later denied doing so and continued to perform Boom Bye Bye.
2009 - Buju is back on tour in the US. Live Nation/House of Blues and Goldenvoice/AEG canceled venues in Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles after an outcry from LGBT community activists. Banton’s ‘Rasta Got Soul’ tour will kick off in Philly despite the AEG Live cancellation. Local activists are now working on getting 30 shows canceled or are preparing protests and boycotts for venues supporting Banton’s Murder Music.
PHILADELPHIA - “We condemn this hate speech and his call to violence against gays and lesbians, as we also condemn the exploitation of our community in song for profit,” said Thom Cardwell, a board member of the Gittings Trust, a Philadelphia-based political action committee whose stated mission is “to advance equality for all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens.
“Let us be extremely clear: Those who advocate the willful killing of others must be shunned by a just society and those companies who facilitate and profit from this hurtful conduct must also be boycotted, reprimanded, shunned and avoided to the fullest.”
SALT LAKE CITY - Urban Partners said it canceled the Urban Lounge show based on "moral grounds." "We strive for peace and understanding in our community," the release read. "We support the rights of all."
Statement from Detroit’s Majestic Theatre: “The Buju Banton concert that was to be held at the Majestic Theatre on Wednesday, September 30th has been cancelled. This was an incredibly tough decision for us both philosophically and economically. If we had known that there was any controversy surrounding this artist, we would have never even considered booking him. We do not condone any form of hate speech. We have struggled to get out of our contract for over a month to no avail. The Majestic is in essence a family-run small business. It is next to impossible to simply cancel a show without major financial consequences. Yet, that is what we have done.”
“We feel that our decision to cancel the show is less about making a statement on free speech and more about continuing to provide a welcoming atmosphere for all people. Over the past month, our friends and neighbors within various LBGT groups have reached out to us and expressed deep concern over Buju’s past comments and song lyrics. For decades, The Majestic has been a haven for unique events and people from all walks of life. At this point and time, Detroiters need to stand together more than ever. We could not allow one event to create a divide. We hope that you continue your support and patronage of The Majestic.” -The Zainea Family
CHARLESTON, SC - “Neither, All-In Entertainment or the Music Farm, were aware of this song and the suggestions that it makes,” Lowe said in a statement emailed to media. “While we do believe in first amendment rights, we do not feel this artist projects the image that All-In Entertainment and The Music Farm have spent years building. We feel it is in the best interest of our fans, friends and the community as a whole to cancel this performance.”
EUREKA, CA - HUMBOLDT COUNTY
Greetings, This email is to confirm that after lengthy consideration, Gil and myself decided that we will cancel the upcoming Buju Banton concert at the Nocturnum Nightclub scheduled for the October 11th, 2009. We have been diligently speaking with the management and various activists over the past two weeks in an effort to help establish a dialogue for discussions.
We care about our local gay community. Buju did issue a statement today that we have forwarded to you today, but it doesn’t change our decision. We will continue towards positive, constructivesolutions.We regret any inconveniences this has caused to ourcommunity.
from Carol Bruno/ PeopleProductions Gil Miracle/Nocturnum
An open letter to the LGBT community, other Allies, and Humboldt County at large,
The past week has been very difficult for me, both personally and professionally. I have endured hateful attacks on my character and my family and friends have been drawn into the war of words. I would like to state unequivocally that I always have been and always will be an ally to the LGBT community and it hurts me to think that, due to this proposed event, public perception might be otherwise. Carol Bruno, of People Productions, and I assumed that the controversy that has surrounded this performer in the past was just that – in the past. Unfortunately we found that these tensions have not been eased and the pain is still all too visceral. For this reason, we have jointly decided to cancel the scheduled performance and we encourage the community to continue the dialogue that has begun. As a new business in a struggling economy it is worth noting that this decision does not come without a painful financial cost.
I want to thank the concerned citizens who sent me thoughtful, intelligent and eloquent messages illustrating their point of view. In a fractured world it is encouraging to see our community, gay, straight, or otherwise, coalesce around themes of unity, love and equality. I am proud to be a member of this community and I am thankful for the response my business has received in the six short months we have been operating.
Please feel free to send any further correspondence to the email address below. I hope to see all of you at future events at Nocturnum.
Sincerely, Gil Miracle Nocturnum High Art Productions firstname.lastname@example.org
San Jose, California - "After reviewing Buju Banton's lyrics, I was appalled by their sheer hatred and encouragement of violence towards the gay, lesbian and transgender community," stated David Powell, co-owner of Voodoo Lounge. "There is no place for these types of incendiary remarks at Voodoo Lounge or in San Jose."