In my forty-eight years of singing, I have noticed a recurrent blight on local artists where establishments, organizations and others refuse to pay for local talent. Of course one of the main places artists tend to perform is in bars and clubs with some festivals here and there. Businesses and organizations will roll out the red carpet and finances for artists or groups from out of town, however when it comes to the local talent pool, they are labeled "not as good" or "since they don't have to pay for accommodations to perform, they don't need to get paid."
I have seen many, many acts over the years, both here in Roanoke, in bigger cities and in some other countries as well. Just because an artist is local doesn't mean they're "not as good". This is an outright prejudice from business owners and organizations who don't have a clue what it's like to be a musical artist and the many obstacles we constantly face.
I have often said our local talent in Roanoke is one of the best yet one of the most neglected bunch of individuals I have ever seen. It doesn't matter what accolades a local artist accumulates, they are nearly all snubbed simply for being local.
One of the biggest sins of this I've seen concerned a good friend of mine I have known for nearly forty years who was scheduled to play in Roanoke's Pride in the Park Festival in 2014. I was one of the sponsors for the festival that year and I had heard my friend was scheduled to play but suddenly they seemed to disappear off the lineup the final week.
I won't mention this person's name but this singer has recorded both here in the U.S. and abroad, has appeared and sang in major motion pictures and has had a very successful national and international singing career over the past forty years. Even with this singer's successes, the singer's home base has always been in Roanoke, Virginia.
I caught up with my friend at a performance of theirs about a month later and I asked why they didn't perform at Roanoke's Pride Festival. The reply I got was astonishing. I was simply told, "Roanoke Pride did me dirty!" I was then filled in on the details.
It seems after Roanoke Pride had hired this entertainer, about a week before the festival commenced, a Roanoke Pride board member called my friend and insisted they cut their fee in half which amounted to about $250.00 less than originally agreed upon. My friend refused, turned down the reduced offer and cancelled their performance in the Roanoke Pride Festival.
Had I known how my friend had been treated, I would have personally made up the difference and had my friend's group play anyway. Plus I probably would've turned some well chosen harsh words towards the Roanoke Pride Committee for treating my friend so underhandedly.
Later I did question someone on the Roanoke Pride board about what I had been told and their reply was "Oh, Roanoke Pride doesn't like to pay locals." Frankly this really pissed me off but I let it slide and I remained silent which I now regret.
As a local artist myself, I have performed a lot in the Roanoke Valley mainly for free. I think in my forty-eight years of singing, I have been paid about three times total singing in Roanoke. Since I'm a solitary artist, I have no other musicians to pay like my friend, who I've mentioned, does. To my further regret, I didn't realize I was pretty much helping a disastrous status quo to remain in operation. No more!!
I performed in a few things in 2015 around the area all unpaid except for some tips I got performing at a club on one occasion which amounted to $22.00 which bought me few drinks afterwards. I did these performances telling myself it would be good exposure for my recordings. However in 2016, I have decided to no longer accept any unpaid engagements. I have done so many benefits in my time and I was glad to do them. That said if I do another damn benefit someone will have to put one on for me.
This will probably mean I'll no longer perform around the area but so be it. I'll concentrate on my recordings, which are now being heard around the world in about twenty-five countries, and I do get paid for those when they are either streamed or purchased.
Some might speculate I'm getting a swell head but with the current employment climate we face today, where myself and many like me haven't had a raise in years on our day jobs, I just can't afford to perform for free anymore.
On February 16, 2016, Virginia's House of Delegates passed a gay-hate bill disguised as an attempt to protect so-called "Religious Freedom" which will allow businesses to discriminate against gays, lesbians and transgendered individuals citing religious freedom.
Unfortunately, my House Delegate, Chris Head, voted in favor of this legislation.
I have posted several comments to Chris Head's Facebook page voicing my displeasure on his voting for this legislation but he has deleted them. It seems Chris Head has a problem with Freedom of Speech and is trying to shuffle this vote under the carpet so that no one will notice.
I have sent an email to Virginia Senator John Edwards. It is as follows:
Dear Senator Edwards:
I wish I could write to you about a happier topic but I'm afraid my email today is in regards to the unfortunate bill approved by the House of Delegates on February 16, 2016 entitled "HB 773: Government Nondiscrimination Act".
The link to this bill is below:
I think it is absurd Republicans in the House of Delegates are trying to pass hate-legislation of this sort disguised as a cavalier attempt to protect "religious freedom" which is already protected by the United States Constitution.
This is just another way Republicans, who are opposed to same-sex marriage in Virginia, are trying to define gays, lesbians and transgendered individuals as second class citizens.
I strongly urge you to vote "NO" on this bill and not allow Virginia to be known as a hate-state as Indiana was labeled when they passed similar legislation.
You have always been supportive of the LGBT community in Virginia, and I know I'm pretty much speaking to the choir here, but I wanted you to know how much I abhor this legislation and how I am also appalled my House Delegate, Chris Head, voted in favor of this bill.
Owner & Recording Artist, Sidscape Media
This link shows how all the Virginia Delegates voted on this bill: