Cassandra Wilson: A Passion for Jazz and Justice

22 Feb 2012

Grammy-winning jazz singer Cassandra Wilson was scheduled to be the feature performer at the Holon International Woman’s Festival.  Just days before her sold out performances, Wilson, who holds an honorary doctorate from Milsaps College, refrained from playing, saying “As a human rights activist I identify with the cultural boycott of Israel.”  Her inspiration was possibly taken from Alice Walker in this poignant video:

Human rights volunteers communicated with her about the human rights violations of Israel, but her courageous decision to cancel was her own.

A letter aptly entitled “Cassandra Wilson, Please Do Not Support Selective Empowerment Of Women Under Israeli Apartheid” was written to her. The letter states:

“Palestinian fans of your music living under the brutal military occupation of the West Bank or the hermetic siege of the Gaza Strip will be prohibited from coming to Holon and enjoy your performance. These 4 millions who are being denied their most fundamental rights include many Palestinian women, whom the Isha festival will certainly not empower. “


Artists who are willing to stand up for human rights and justice and refuse to play Israel usually receive some hateful messages.  This screenshot of @LastBrainLeft on twitter is one example.

Cassandra was awarded her first Grammy in 1996 for  Best Jazz Vocal Performance for New Moon Daughter.  Her second Grammy was in 2009 for  Best Jazz Vocal Album for Loverly.  Last year she received the  BET Soul Train Award for Best Traditional Jazz Album for Silver Pony.

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