Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This Was the Offensive Letter We Received from Wall Street Music Hall Regarding Homophobic Musical Performer BuJu Banton's Rochester Concert

[Blogger's Note: In response to our letter raising the issue of Buju Banton's performance in Rochester, this is what we received: a form letter failing to answer our concerns. They supplied us with an impersonal, shamefully oversimplified response to our concern of Banton's encouragement of anti-gay violence. Immediately below is what we received.]

(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.

1 comment:

  1. This is a classic mobilization of the idea of children in the service of homophobia. 1) It's understandable to call for gay people to be killed as long at the person calling for the violence had confused gays with violent pedophiles. This is part of the long tradition of using charges of sexual assault against marginalized groups to justify violence against them. 2) You should be able to redeem yourself in the eyes of the gay community by concerning yourself with a gay cause, though with the gayness removed-- ie, children with AIDS, who are the innocent victims in the popular imaginary of the gays responsible for the disease's spread. One wonders if a bone marrow drive to find donors for children in need of bone marrow would have been cited as redemptive of one's call for violent attacks on gays. And this erases queer youth by creating an empty space between (the innocence of) childhood and (the guilt of gay) adulthood.

    Which is not to say that children with AIDS are not in need of help and assistance and understanding-- but children with AIDS are frequently used as barganing chips by the forces of homophobia, and often experience the overflows of homophobic violence. Remember Ryan White going back to school?