Music A Response From Neumo’s on the Booking of Buju Banton
The response has been posted here, on a local LiveJournal page:
Live Journal Folks,
My name is Steven Severin and I am one of the owners and talent buyers for Neumos. I am personally responsible for booking Buju Banton. Below is a letter from Buju’s label, but I wanted to let you know my two cents as well.
Neumos does not condone any homophobic, racists, or any other asshole tendencies in our club. Many of you know me and are aware that I am very gay friendly and have tons of homosexual friends and acquaintances. Under no circumstance would we knowingly bring a homophobic artist to town.
What Buju said was extremely wrong and he is aware of that. The song was written when he was 15 years old. He has since then apologized for it several times and hasn’t played the song in years. He knows what he did was wrong and has tried to move past that and has written some of the most conscious and positive lyrics to date. I know this won’t change many of your minds about how you feel about the artist, but hopefully it does give you some understanding into our position.
Some people have asked that we cancel the show, which we simply can’t do. We are under contract and must continue with the show. I think if y’all do come down, you will see a far different Buju than the one you might have read about.
Thank you for your time
The letter from Buju’s record label is in the jump…
I am writing to you from the New York offices of Gargamel Music, Inc. the Jamaican record label headed by international Reggae icon Buju Banton. After hearing about the concerns being voiced by local gay activists about the upcoming performances in Washington, I felt it was important to reach out, as the public portrait that has been painted of Buju as an artist who has espoused violence, hatred and negativity his entire career is one of absolute fraud.
Indeed a young Buju Banton wrote the incendiary anti-gay missive "Boom Bye Byeâ€ť back when he was a mere 15 years old. The song caused a veritable furor in the states when it was re-released four years later in 1992 and has continued to haunt his career ever since, most recently evidenced by the manufactured charges of his alleged involvement in a gay bashing incident in Kingston nearly two years ago. Needless to say, Buju quietly maintained his innocence and was unequivocally cleared of all charges this past January.
While certain factions of the gay community have continued to try and discredit him in the mainstream media, those who have followed Buju Banton's artistic development and have actually listened to his entire body of work know of his prodigious growth into one of the world's most prolific singer/songwriters—one whose consistently positive messages of peace, love and spiritual enlightenment are never lost in the music. His 1995 release 'Til Shiloh was nominated for a Grammy award, landed on Spin magazine's Top 20 Albums of the Year and hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the Best Albums of the Decade. Later projects Inna Heights (1997) and Unchained Spirit (2000) garnered him numerous comparisons to the late great Bob Marley. The album Friends For Life (2003) was also nominated for a Grammy award.
Buju Banton's love for humanity is not just demonstrated in words but also in deeds. Ten 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 had lost their parents to the disease. For the last three years he served as spokesperson for Upliftment Jamaica, a US-based non-profit committed to working with underprivileged youth in Jamaica. Buju's culturally diverse fan base spans the Caribbean, North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and beyond. He is not simply an artist—he is a highly respected leader and very necessary voice. Please feel free to call me to discuss this matter further.
Vice President/General Manager
Gargamel Music, Inc. — www.myspace.com/bujubanton