cancelled reggae concert

Organisers and opponents of a reggae concert cancelled because it was to feature performers with a history of anti-gay lyrics found common ground yesterday, with both sides agreeing they wanted to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean-American community.

At a Manhattan news conference, opponents of the Reggae Gold Live concert said cancelling the July 18 show planned for Webster Hall, was not enough. And the show's apologetic organiser, LIFEbeat - The Music Industry Fights AIDS, said in a statement that it was committed to the cause of fighting AIDS, particularly in the Caribbean-American community. "Over the next few weeks, we will be reaching out to key members of the Caribbean-American community and to AIDS organisations to join together in creating an appropriate forum," said John Cannelli, executive director of LIFEbeat. Colin Robinson, of the gay rights Caribbean Rainbow Coalition, said those angered by the concert featuring dancehall artistes Beenie Man and the group TOK were willing to meet with LIFEbeat and find another way to address the AIDS problem. LIFEbeat needs partners who know the Caribbean-American community, the HIV epidemic and the way stigma and silence work," Robinson said. "They need our help in understanding how to bring attention to this unspoken and often stigmatised illness. We are here and willing. nThe show was cancelled Wednesday amid protests from gay activists and bloggers upset by the inclusion of the two performers.\r\nCannelli said his group was inundated with calls, including some threatening violence, if the show went on with Beenie Man and TOK. He said the threats came from random callers, rather than anyone involved in the protest against the show. The issue of anti-gay lyrics in reggae and other Jamaican music surfaced years ago when Buju Banton released Batty Rider and Boom Bye Bye. Less than a week ago, British concerts featuring Banton and Beenie Man were cancelled after activists said the artistes refused to stop using anti-gay lyrics. The Beenie Man song Han Up Deh calls for a lesbian to be hanged, while TOK 's song Chi Chi Man suggests the burning of gay men. The Caribbean-American activists suggested another New York concert, with the money going to the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, AllSexuals and Gays.  nsource: jamaicaobserver.com