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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
September 2, 2005

Cleveland, Columbus shows go on for 'kill gays' singer

Cleveland--A concert by a reggae star whose lyrics call for the killing of gay men was set to take place as scheduled at the House of Blues on August 31.

Sizzla Kalonji, the stage name of Miguel Collins, is a popular Jamaican singer of the same stripe as Buju Banton and Beenie Man, both of whom have been met with protests from the LGBT community and their allies whenever their concerts have been announced.

Sizzla had another show the next night in Columbus.

The singer, who is now on a national tour, had his September 12 show at the House of Blues in West Hollywood canceled because of a unified protest by the Cleveland and Los Angeles LGBT centers.

However, House of Blues management refused to cancel Sizzla�s Cleveland date.

�I spoke to the national guy who canceled the show in Hollywood, and he says that they�re not canceling it,� said Sue Doerfer, executive director of the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center.

Doerfer and her counterpart at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center had asked the House of Blues to cancel their scheduled shows with Sizzla, in keeping with the Los Angeles company�s mission statement.

�The International House of Blues Foundation is dedicated to promoting cultural understanding and creative expression through music and art,� reads the top of the International House of Blues Foundation�s web site.

�Just as Sizzla�s lyrics violate House of Blues� mission, HOB is violating the trust and well-being of the LGBT community of northeastern Ohio,� Doerfer said. �Earlier this summer, HOB organized a series of events to position the venue as an accepting and tolerant place for LGBT people. Sizzla�s appearance not only contradicts those efforts but devalues the local LGBT community.�

Sizzla�s appearance and the furor over it mirror a similar situation in 2004 with Jamaican performer Beenie Man, who was set to tour the U.S. following a collaboration with Janet Jackson.

However, with protests meeting the majority of his scheduled appearances, Newport cigarettes, the sponsors of the tour, replaced him with a less controversial artist.

Sizzla�s United Kingdom tour was canceled last year after authorities refused to let him into the country, saying that his lyrics were an incitement to violence. Similarly, most of his European tour was scrapped.

According to Doerfer, House of Blues management stands by Sizzla�s artistic expression.

�He says that the artist has been misinterpreted,� she said.

Some of Sizzla�s lyrics translate from Jamaican patois into standard English as, �Fire for the man who rides another man�s behind, shoot a gay man, my big gun booms,� and �Sodomite and gay man, I say death for them.�

In 2002, Sizzla told an audience at a concert in Chicago, in Jamaican slang, �Mi nuh go tek back mi chat . . . mi kill sodomite and batty man dem bring AIDS and disease pon people . . . shot a kill dem,� which translates as, �I won�t take back what I said . . . I kill sodomites and gay men that bring AIDS and disease to people . . . shoot and kill them.�

Sizzla was also scheduled to appear on September 1 at Alrosa Villa in Columbus, a smaller club that is not part of a national chain.

Attempts to reach Jack Gannon, the senior vice president of marketing for House of Blues, were unsuccessful, and messages were not returned by press time.

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