THE ANITA BAKER SHOW THAT NEVER WAS
On Saturday the 30th of August, I dressed up eagerly, applied lip gloss quickly, grabbed my bag and camera, and went for a concert that felt to me like a dream of a lifetime come true.
I listen to Anita Baker’s songs everyday; she is on my ipod and I think that she is a true diva with class, who paved the way for so many other artistes.
Excited I was, and I sat through the jokes, music, and dinner, expectant and ready to sing along to ‘Same Ol Love’ and ‘Rapture’.
Alas, that did not happen for IK, the host for the day had to come and convey serious and sad news- Anita Baker was refusing to perform and would not perform. Tickets would be refunded, and the food and the drinks were now on the house.
A lady who came all the way from Abuja just for Anita, broke into tears. Something in me went quiet, and as I write this, it is still not awake. We had paid 450, 900, and 9000 dollars to see her perform, but that was not to be. People got up in shock. No anger, just a lot of sadness and disappointment. As IK had said, Anita Baker had been shown nothing but the best of Nigerian hospitality (best hotel, chauffeur driven cars with police escorts, riders accepted and so on).
What were the facts of the case?
Here is what I pieced together.
- When Anita Baker was contracted, she had been informed that some guests would pay for tables.
- The hall was set banquet style with tables, and dinner and drinks were to be sold.
- Tickets cost 450, 900 and 9000 dollars and these came with dinner promised.
- Anita Baker came into the hall at 6pm, and said she would not perform because it was a show and the hall had been arranged banquet style.
- The organisers removed half of the tables and arranged them theatre style, then explained to Anita and her crew that some people had actually bought tables.
- Anita Baker still refused to perform.
- The organisers then pleaded with her to let them serve dinner, then remove the tables and arrange all the chairs theatre style.
- Dinner was quickly served while the Nigerian acts performed.
- Unfortunately, Anita Baker still refused to perform.
Please note that Nigeria is one of the African countries that sees a steady influx of international performers! We have had, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Wyclef, Sean Paul, Lynden David Hall, Fat Joe and Mary J Blige, amongst a whole host of others. Infact, even Usher who had to cancel his first performance in Nigeria, gave us a second chance this year and performed in Abuja.
Perhaps Anita Baker saw this and wanted what they had- a hall packed full of screaming fans, standing from evening to morning.
However, there are different types of shows, and it is up to show organisers to package these shows as they wish. Anita Baker was actually given the exclusive show type- where the tickets are very expensive (almost ten times the going rate for tickets to other shows with international acts. And that was the cheapest ticket!), dinner is served, and the guests are of the highest cadre! Several international acts have performed at such events in Nigeria, including Lionel Richie, Shalamar, Michael Bolton, Kenny Latimore, Joe, and Angie Stone.
Anita Baker should have been angry with the organisers! She should have punished them by asking for more money, or performing a set that was briefer than usual. What she should not have done, was take it out on the fans! She should not have taken it out on the fans who came there ready to enjoy an evening with their favourite artist. Here in Nigeria, we have a hair cut named after her! People know all the lyrics to her songs! And for an event that was not even highly publicised, she still pulled a crowd that filled the hall!
The least she could have done was say hello to the fans!
I hate that she did that to us. I feel she did it, and ‘knew’ she would get away with it because we are an African country, a third world country in her eyes! I am sad that she feels justified to treat us like this.
I hope the international press will carry this story. I cannot wait to hear her side. I cannot wait to see her on ‘OPRAH’, defending herself.
I feel for the organisers who have surely now made a loss.
I feel for the fans who have lost some of their passion for their star.
I feel for those who she is setting a terrible example for.
I wish her all the best, but I know that she owes us an apology.