Montreal Jazz Fest Calls Off Controversial "SLAV Shows"
By Matias Garabedian from Montreal, Canada (Festival international de jazz de Montréal) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Montreal Jazz Fest Calls Off Controversial “SLAV Shows”

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MONTREAL (CelebrityAccess) After protests and criticisms, the Montreal International Jazz Festival has canceled the remaining presentations of a show that cast white singers as black slaves.

Betty Bonifassi, a Montreal-based singer who was nominated for an Oscar for the soundtrack of “Les Triplettes de Belleville,” was the main performer in the “SLAV shows,” which were directed by Quebec playwright Robert Lepage.

The decision comes a day after U.S. musician canceled a performance at the jazz fest in protest, according to the Canadian Press, and after the premiere drew about 75 protestors outside the theatre, requiring police to form a cordon to get people inside.

“Since the beginning of SLAV performances, the festival team has been shaken and strongly affected by all comments received,” the festival said in a statement today. “For the Festival international de Jazz de Montreal, inclusion and reconciliation between communities is essential. We made the decision with the artist Betty Bonifassi to cancel all performances of the show at the festival.”

The statement follows a Facebook post by Lepage and Bonifassi: Yes, the history of slavery, in all its various forms, belongs first and foremost to those who have been oppressed and to the descendants of those people.

“Diversity and its artistic potential are at the heart of SLAV as much as the legacy of slavery. Do we have the right to tell these stories? Audience members will have the opportunity to decide after having seen the show.”

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