Promoter: Brown To Play Shows

A petition has collected more than 11,500 signatures in hopes of stopping Chris Brown from playing Halifax, Nova Scotia, while four sponsors have now dropped their support for the gig. But the promoter is defending the booking, saying “we are thrilled to be welcoming him to Canada.”

As you might have guessed, the controversy over Brown’s Aug. 31 performance at Halifax’s Alderney Landing stems from the rapper/singer’s 2009 assault against Rihanna.

The Halifax gig is part of the Energy Rush concert series, which also includes an Aug. 29 show in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Aug. 30 event in Toronto. Brown is headlining all three dates.

Addressed to Halifax Mayor Mike Savage and radio station Energy 103.5, the petition states, “Chris Brown is a known woman beater. As a city, I believe it reflects poorly on us to not only host such an artist, but to make him the headliner of this show. It says that as a city, we do not care for domestic abuse as long as you can write a catchy dance song. It shows we don’t care if you almost kill someone because we will still put you on a stage and give you money because your singing and dancing career trumps that.”

Photo: Charles Sykes / Invision / AP
Hot 97 Summer Jam XX, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

Rogers Communications pulled its sponsorship for the Halifax show Aug. 13, followed by Monday’s news that Molson Canadian, Halifax-based spa Touch of Radiance and Centre for Arts and Technology-Halifax were also withdrawing their support, according to CTV News.

“As an education institution, we can’t ignore the sentiments expressed on campus that participating in this year’s event goes against our collective values,” the Centre for Arts and Technology said on Facebook.

So, what does Halifax’s mayor think?

“It makes me kind of sick, to be honest with you, that someone like this will be performing in Halifax,” Mike Savage told the Chronicle Herald July 13. “Those of us who are in public life – I’m in public life, he’s in public life – you have to be responsible for your past actions, and I think it sends a very, very wrong message to everybody.”   

But he also told CTV Atlantic, “We have to be careful in telling people what they can listen to, what they can read, what they can hang on the wall, what goes in public museums, and things like that. It’s a bit of a tricky line.”

Savage added, “But personally, I’m not happy.”

Drop Entertainment Group’s Stephen Tobin, who is promoting the Energy Rush concert series, put out an announcement July 15 (via Global News) to address the dispute over the Halifax show.  

“In no way do we condone Chris Brown’s past behavior or personal endeavors; we are purely focused on his music, incredible talent and overall popularity,” Tobin said. “I believe it is a very slippery slope when we start trying to censor, or dictate, who can or cannot perform in this province. There are thousands of people in the Maritimes who want to see Chris Brown perform. If some do not want to support him, or this homegrown event, they can exercise their right by simply choosing not to attend. But everyone is free to make their own choices and no one has the right to prevent others from having a chance to see this world-class performer, should they choose to do so.

“Chris Brown is a multi-platinum, award-winning artist and we are thrilled to be welcoming him to Canada. Although he is as controversial as he is talented, there is no denying that he is one of the biggest, boldest names in the music industry today. With the momentum of Chris’ new album, set to release in August, we have full confidence these Canadian performances will be both well received, and very well attended.”

Tobin noted that the reaction in the markets in Toronto and Winnipeg “has been nothing short of electric and overwhelmingly positive.”     

On Monday Brown appeared in court in Los Angeles, where a judge revoked his probation based on the details of an alleged hit-and-run accident. The hit-and-run case is due back in court July 23 and Brown, who remains free, has another hearing set for Aug. 16. Pollstar contacted Tobin to ask if Monday’s court decision would affect the concert series but the promoter wasn’t available for comment.