We've been thinking a lot about the cancellations of gigs by Buju Banton during his recent tour. The latest, according to the Minnesota Independent (via the Daily Swarm), is at First Avenue in Minneapolis. The impetus for this internal conversation is a comment left on our recent post about AEG Live's cancellation of Banton's show at LA's Club Nokia. Both LA-based LiveNation and AEG Live scrapped scheduled performances after being pressured by gay-rights activists.
We're reprinting the comment in full:
This was the response from Buju Banton's publicist ,which no journalist seem to be interested in, probably because he's not on a major label with advertising $ behind him anymore:
(New York, NY – 3, September 2009) Gargamel Music is pleased to confirm that four-time Grammy nominated Reggae artist and icon, Buju Banton will kick off his hotly anticipated Rasta Got Soul US Tour on September 12th in Philadelphia. We are disappointed by the hasty cancellation of a few shows by Live Nation/House of Blues and Goldenvoice/AEG, but fans will be happy to know we have over 30 confirmed shows that are definitely playing and we are working to replace the canceled dates. Now our team is primarily concerned with setting the record straight on the grossly inaccurate portrait of Buju being painted by certain organizations and systematically relayed to the masses and the media.
Buju Banton was all of 15-years-old when he wrote “Boom Bye Bye” in response to a widely publicized man/boy rape case in Jamaica. It was not a call to violence. The song was re-released on a popular dancehall rhythm in 1992 and caused a huge uproar after receiving commercial radio play in the States. Following much public debate back then, prominent gay rights leaders – and Buju – decidedly moved on. For the record, it is the only song he ever made on the subject – and he does not perform it today. Those who have followed Buju Banton's musical journey and have actually listened to his extensive catalog, know of his development into a world-class singer, songwriter and performer who can quietly sell out such prestigious venues as the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York and Brixton Academy in London.
He does not advocate violence. There has never been a shred of violence at any of his live shows. In fact, he commonly preaches against violence – against all people. Buju's consistently positive messages of peace, love and enlightenment have never been lost in the music. His 1995 Grammy-nominated album 'Til Shiloh marked a spiritual and musical transformation that yielded the classic narratives “Untold Stories,” “Wanna Be Loved” and “Murderer,” which personified the horrific increase in gun crimes in Kingston's inner city. His Grammy-nominated Inna Heights (1997) garnered him numerous comparisons to the late, great Bob Marley. Long before Hollywood raised its collective consciousness about Darfur, there was Buju Banton wailing about the genocide happening in “Sudan” on 1999's Unchained Spirit. His Friends For Life (2003) and Too Bad (2006) projects were both acknowledged with Grammy nods for Best Reggae Album. Buju's latest Roots Reggae opus, Rasta Got Soul (2009), has already been welcomed with critical acclaim in the US, Europe and Japan.
The artist's love for humanity is not just demonstrated in words but also in deeds. Twelve years ago he responded to the AIDS crisis in Jamaica by launching Operation Willy, an organization focused on raising monies for HIV positive babies and children who lost their parents to the disease. For three years he served as a celebrity spokesperson for Upliftment Jamaica, a US-based non-profit committed to working with underprivileged youth back home.
Yet none of these personal and professional accomplishments matter much to a gay lobby hell bent on destroying the livelihood of a man who has spent an entire career making amends — his way. Sadly, their 17 year fixation on waging war against one artist has prevented them from turning this initiative into a larger, more fruitful discussion that could perhaps effect real change.
Is it time to move on?