ANITA BAKER SNUBS AFRICAN CROWD
If it happend in the United states of America, she would- by now- have had scores of court papers piling on her doorstep. She would have suffered the backlash and her publicists would be running around, doing damage control.
But last weekend in Nigeria, 50 year-old soul singer Anita Baker kept fans in an African city waiting all night; eventually not showing up, in spite of the fact that most of the fans had paid between $500, $1000 and $9000 to see her perform.
It happened in Lagos, a cosmopolitan Nigerian city regarded as the headquarters of showbusines in Africa.
She was in the country as part of a tour that had been advertised on her website since June 2008.
She had reportedly cancelled a gig in South Africa, from where she boarded a South African airways flight for Nigeria, West Africa.
And in Nigeria, fans who had coughed out as high as 100,000 Nigerian naira to see her perform had their expectations cut short after the 50 year-old multi-platinum singer refused to hit the stage, following an alleged disagreement with the organisers over the hall’s sitting arrangement.
Ohio-born Baker, who arrived the country on Wednesday August 27 aboard a South Africa airways fight, was scheduled to perform at the Expo Centre of Eko Hotels on Saturday August 30th.
A day earlier, she gave a surprise performance at a private 40th birthday shindig for Kemi Bolaji Balogun, wife of one of Subomi Balogun’s sons.
But on the D-Day, sources say she blatantly refused to step into the hall, after complaining that the arrangement was ‘banquet style’. The veteran singer is believed to favour concert style settings. And may have been upset by the sitting arrangement and the fact that tables had been sold.
Guests waited and waited. And the organisers -Kilimanjaro Events and Chapelhill Denham- prayed and hoped she’ll calm down and change her mind. The compere Basketmouth and rising act Nikki Laoye provided nerve-calming entertainment. But Guests (which included Tunde Okoya, Toyin Subair, Rosemary Kensington Adebutu, Dejare Adegbenro, Mina Okoloko, Stella Okoli and Lanre Nzeribe) grew increasingly impatient; sensing that ‘all was not well’.
And it was with a heavy heart that the MC announced that the singer would not be showing up. ‘‘all foods and drinks are now on the house’’, the MC announced to a bemused audience.
Baker or her reps have not offered any explanations or apologies.
But according to findings, she returned to the US on Sunday August 31; leaving the organisers to count their losses, and manage the issues the incident has thrown up.
Expectedly, opinions are divided on the diva’s action. Industry watchers continue to debate; some argue that the organisers may have ignored a condition on her rider; while others insist she ‘‘should have put her fans first’’, especially having come all the way to Nigeria, where she was billed to perform for the first time.