Montreal jazz festival cancels, apologizes for Robert Lepage slave-song show

05 July, 2018, 02:51 | Author: Dominic Spencer
  • Moses Sumney pulls out of Montreal Jazz Festival over controversial racially charged musical

People protest SLAV, a show billed as "a theatrical odyssey based on slave songs", on June 26, 2018.

Indie musician Moses Sumney has cancelled his appearance at the Montreal Jazz Festival after its organizers defended a racist musical featuring white people singing African American spirituals stemming from slavery.

SLĀV, a sold-out show, had been considered one of the most popular events at Montreal's annual jazz festival.

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

The 39th edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival is on until July 7. "Audience members will have the opportunity to decide after having seen the show". The Montreal Jazz Festival Site describes the show as "a remarkable interpretation of the songs, laments and lullabies that united these human beings dispossessed of everything", adding that the show offers "universal links between different known and less known-or deliberately forgotten-pages of history that have led humanity to enslave peoples".


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

Currently, the rest of the Montreal International Jazz Festival is set to run smoothly. "We would like to apologize to those who were hurt".

Both the jazz festival and Lepage's public relations firm said there would be no interviews on the matter Wednesday.

In a statement, theatre company Ex Machina acknowledged the festival's decision and declined to comment further.

SLAV made headlines across Canada last week after a local hip-hop artist named Lucas Charlie Rose organized a protest outside the first performance of the show at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde (TNM). 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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