South Carolina State University will remember October 27th as Homecoming 2007. But for Peabo Bryson, R&B group Silk and others involved with the homecoming concert, the date is fresh in their minds because they were never fully paid for the show.
Jeff Alston, who co-manages Bryson along with David M. Franklin & Associates, told Pollstar he plans to file a lawsuit against the university and Darwin Rencher, the promoter Bryson and Silk signed a contract with, and whom Alston says is an agent of the university.
Alston said SCSU is now demanding that Rencher pay up or face legal action, and the university maintains it is not liable in paying the artists or others involved with the concert.
Edwin Givens, the university’s special assistant for legal and government affairs, stated: "S.C. State University paid Dee Consulting and Mr. Darwin Rencher in full as per the terms and conditions of the contract.
"S.C. State is in no way liable for payment due to Mr. Bryson, according to the contractual agreement entered into with Dee Consulting and Mr. Darwin Rencher," Givens said, according to the Times and Democrat. "S.C. State will work hand-in-hand with Mr. Bryson and his management to ensure that he is compensated for his services rendered during the … concert."
Several phone calls to Givens were not returned.
Alston said a deposit of $13,780 was received before the show – $10,780 was wired into Bryson’s company account, G. Angel, from SCSU’s foundation account, which Alston says is proof the school is liable. Rencher also paid the singer $3,000. This brings the remaining balance owed to $16,220.
The contract between Rencher and Bryson specified the remaining balance be paid in cash at sound check. Alston said Rencher told him he didn’t have the cash and gave "a million excuses" why it wasn’t possible to write out a state check instead. So Alston told Bryson not to take the stage without the payment.
Rencher then offered to give him a personal check that the university’s police chief could "guarantee."
"It was something that I had never heard of before so it infuriated me. I said, ‘Darwin, I have never heard of this before. It’s not even a form of payment – someone can’t guarantee your personal check,’" Alston said.
Bryson ended up performing after Rencher assured him he would wire the balance the following Tuesday. It never happened.
"Everyone felt comfortable, knowing the university was putting this event on. I had received almost $11,000 from the university, so I didn’t feel like there was going to be a problem getting the balance. I was just very unhappy with how they had transacted the business up to this point," Alston said.
Silk’s manager, Louise Ferguson of Silk Entertainment, also told Pollstar that she will be filing a lawsuit against SCSU and Rencher.
Ferguson said that Silk hasn’t been paid and is still waiting for payment of $5,500. Despite not getting an initial deposit, Silk performed with the promise that the funds would be received by the following Tuesday. They weren’t.
However, it wasn’t the promoter who promised the funds would be paid but a school official, Lillian Adderson, the assistant VP for alumni relations.
"We decided we were not going to perform at all. Ms. Adderson comes to us and says she would personally guarantee that we got paid if we performed. She was really sorry, she said, and the university itself had given Darwin $60,000 to pay all the acts. She was not aware of the fact that no one had been paid," Ferguson said.
"If she had not given us her personal guarantee, we would not have performed. But she came to us herself, and said, ‘Don’t worry about it. Please do this for me. We’ve got a packed house and I really don’t want any bad press on the university.’ So once she guaranteed it, she made herself liable."
Madison Meadows of Audio Mass, which did the sound for the concert and also signed a contract with Rencher, told the Times and Democrat that they are owed $3,900 out of a total charge of $6,800.
"To tell you the truth, I don’t think none of us got paid from that concert. I’ve been calling and trying to talk to someone and it’s almost impossible to get someone to return my call," said Meadows, who told the paper he is also considering taking legal action.
"The only reason why we went on with the concert is because it was a South Carolina State function. That made the difference, plus tickets were sold by them for the event."
Ferguson and Alston said Rencher has not returned their calls. Pollstar was also unable to contact the promoter.