I believe Free Press Summer Fest and Pegstar should cancel their contract with R. Kelly so he does not perform at FPSF this summer. They should do so because of R. Kelly’s extensively documented history as a sexual predator who attacks girls. I’m not the only person who thinks this.
I’m a huge fan of Summer Fest. It gives local musicians and our local music scene great exposure, is a really solid mid-summer bump to the economy, and showcases one of the prettiest parts of our swampy ol’ town.
My own livelihood doesn’t depend on what I do or don’t say about this issue.
For some performers, however, especially local ones, the stakes are higher.
Easy for me to demand they give up a job on a matter of principle, but in reality, it goes beyond playing this one festival. They’ve got to live and work here. It is unfair for those performers to be put in the position of sharing a bill with someone who is known to be a child rapist. I don’t judge them for remaining silent in public.
Right now, I only know of one band speaking out publicly. From their Facebook page, the Free Radicals say:
Either Free Radicals or Free Rads 2nd Line has played every Free Press Summerfest except the first one, but… Free Rads 2nd Line has decided to stand with Girls Rock Camp Houston this year. We won’t play FPSF2015 (or offer to play since we usually kinda sneak in at the last minute) unless the Girls Rock Camp Houston’s demands about R. Kelly are met. Free Press and Pegstar have been our supporters, friends, and allies over the years. So, we hope they handle this right!
They’re not declaring war, and they are acknowledging the complexities of the multiple relationships, but they are very clearly saying where they stand.
Who else with a stake in the industry will speak up? I know it can be risky, but how can we ask the girls harmed by R. Kelly’s sexual predation to speak up if we can’t speak up on their behalf? How can we expect them to know that we care, that we believe them?
What does Weezer have to say? Would Belle and Sebastian care to comment? The Decemberists?
What about Professor Bun-B, once of UGK and now of Rice University?
Or the People’s Champ, Paul Wall?
Maybe Robert Ellis, who has not only earned nationwide recognition for his incredible talent, but who has managed to earn mailbox money and praise (instead of accusations of selling out, which lesser-loved artists might face) for writing and staring in a commercial for a newfangled shaving cream can?
I don’t think any of these performers risk too much by speaking out. Fair to say that the festival needs these performers more than these performers need the festival.
The Girls Rock Camp participants are listening. The girls who’ve been targeted by R. Kelly, or people behaving like him, are listening.
I hope the leading musicians on the FPSF bill will be music to girls’ ears. Their lives matter. Let’s honor that fact.