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Now browsing: Hometown News > Opinion > Brevard County

The day the music died
Rating: 4.48 / 5 (46 votes)  
Posted: 2013 Aug 02 - 06:37

By Amanda Hatfield Anderson

Staff Writer

On May 26, 1971, Don McLean recorded "American Pie" -- the iconic song that paid tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, who were killed in a 1959 plane crash.

I am sure that nearly everyone, at some point, has heard this beautiful song.

As a matter of fact, I was repurposing some furniture in my garage yesterday, and "American Pie" came on Pandora and found myself singing, "A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile."

This morning, Floridians are learning that the music may, in fact, have died.

On my way into work, I heard a report on the radio about a group of music artists, who are boycotting performances in Florida in the wake of George Zimmerman's acquittal of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

On Feb. 26, 2012, Mr. Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon, 17, in Sanford. Trayvon was returning from a local convenience store, when he and Mr. Zimmerman got into a scuffle that resulted in the young man's death.

Mr. Zimmerman claimed self-defense, sighting Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. The 2012 Florida Statutes states that justifiable use of deadly force when "a person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril or death or great bodily harm to himself or herself when using defensive forces that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm" is lawful.

Mr. Zimmerman's case received national attention throughout the past year, and still continues to do so, even after his acquittal.

Before I continue, let me just say that I believe there are no winners in this case. The Martin family will never be able to hug their son again and Mr. Zimmerman will, presumably, live in isolation for the rest of his days.

Now that the judicial system has played its role, why are these artists forming a group to protest the verdict, as well as Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law?

April Ryan, journalist and White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, posted a blog on July 22, stating that the musicians are cancelling concerts and vowing not to perform in Florida until the "Stand Your Ground" law is changed.

"Sources close to the Stevie Wonder camp confirm a list of artists joining him in support of a change in the Stand Your Ground Law in Florida," Mrs. Ryan wrote. "Stevie Wonder last week, at a concert in Canada, said he would not play in Florida until they changed the Stand Your Ground Law."

The artists joining Stevie Wonder include Mary Mary, Eddie Levert, Rod Stewart, Madonna, Usher, Pattie Labelle, Kanye West, Mary J Blige, Trey Songz, Jay-Z, The Rolling Stones, Justin Timberlake, R. Kelly, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Joe, Will .I. Am, Keysha Cole, Young Jeezy, Erykah Badu, Wale, Frankie Beverly and Parliament.

While there has been a substantial amount of speculation regarding the legitimacy of the artists joining Stevie Wonder, I can't help but wonder what the aforementioned wish to accomplish is in the wake of the judicial system's decision. Most of all, if the list is accurate, do these artists realize the repercussions of their actions?

Florida is not the only state that these music acts will bypass on their tours. Twenty-three other states also have laws similar to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. These states include Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and West Virginia.

But what impact will cancelling Florida concerts have on the controversial "Stand Your Ground" law?

For one, many venues could seek legal action against those artists, who have cancelled shows. Places like "House of Blues" at Downtown Disney and "Hard Rock Live" at Universal's City Walk, promote shows well in advance, once the talent has been booked.

If the venues are in the red, waiting to make up for booking the act through ticket and merchandise sales, these businesses could find the talent at fault for their loss in revenue.

While the list includes many "A List" acts, local venues can also feel the burn. Sports Page in Satellite Beach and Sebastian Beach Inn in Floridana are known to bring in big shows for Brevard County music lovers.

I must also ask how artists expect Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Florida's Legislature to take action regarding the "Stand Your Ground" law just because they choose to host their concerts in other states.

I have a hard time seeing the Florida Legislature convening for a special hearing to revise the "Stand Your Ground" law, just to bring back music artists to Florida.

I've also heard the argument that these artists will not keep up the protest long, as they will see a decrease in profit while on tour.

Sure, that is a valid point; however, many music artists, who are protesting the "Stand Your Ground" law in Florida, will not be severely impacted by this. For example, rap artist Jay-Z is said to have a net worth of $500 million. I'm sure he's not going to feel a huge loss by not touring in Florida.

More than anything, it is really we -- the fans -- who will be suffering most. As an avid music lover, I truly enjoy going to concerts in the Central Florida area.

While I believe this group of artists has every Constitutional right to attempt to change a law, in which they see fault, punishing their fans by not hosting concerts in Florida is not the way to go.

Yes, some music fans may be lucky enough to travel to another state in order to enjoy a concert, but many do not have this luxurious option.

So, dear readership, I ask of you: is there another way that music artists can approach this? Why deprive faithful fans the pure joy of a concert experience?

"I went down to the sacred store, where I'd heard the music years before," Mr. McLean sang. "But the man there said the music wouldn't play."

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