Moses Sumney Cancels Montreal Jazz Fest Set Over Controversial Musical

Moses-Sumney

Moses-Sumney

All performances of controversial show SLĀV: a theatrical odyssey based on slave songs have been cancelled following protests against the controversial production, which incorporated songs composed by slaves.

On Tuesday, American musician Moses Sumney pulled out of the Jazz Festival, saying he was disappointed by the festival's decision to book a show "in which a majority-white group of singers, led by a white Québécois director, sing African-American slave songs, sometimes dressed as field slaves and cotton pickers".

"Since the beginning of SLAV performances, the Festival team has been shaken and strongly affected by all comments receivied", said festival organizers in a statement.

The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal had initially defended SLAV in the face of the protests.

"Honestly, we're extremely happy", said Sophia Sahrane, a member of SLAV Resistance, a protest group that had sent out a letter signed by 1,500 "concerned Montrealers" earlier in the day demanding the show be shut down.

A week ago, Sumney called out the Jazz festival on Twitter regarding SLĀV's placement on the lineup, and although he thanked them for "dialoguing" with him on the subject, he ultimately made a decision to cancel the set.

The show, which was directed by renowned Quebec playwright Robert Lepage, has been mired in controversy since the get-go.

At the premiere last week, about 75 protesters staged a demonstration outside the theatre that was hosting the performance.

Currently, the rest of the Montreal International Jazz Festival is set to run smoothly.

The jazz festival's announcement on Wednesday was a U-turn from previous communications.

Ex Machina did not respond to a request for comment on the cancellation or the future of the show by deadline. Sumney also said that he could not "in good conscience" opt to perform at the Festival "on a day sandwiched between Canada Day and Independence Day, two bittersweet holidays that have long left black, brown, and indigeneous voices out".

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