Indigo Girls Call School Gig Cancellation 'Homophobia'

Lesbian folk-rock duo responds to news with plans to play a different show off-campus after classes.

Indigo Girls singer/guitarist Emily Saliers blasted administrators of an Irmo,

S.C., high school Thursday after they canceled the lesbian duo's upcoming

performance at a school assembly in the face of community complaints

concerning her and her singing partner's sexuality.

"We are saddened and angry to hear that our [May 7] show at Irmo High School

has been canceled," Saliers said in a prepared statement issued by her Epic

label. "It is a blatant case of homophobia. The show was canceled because we

are gay."

Saliers also vowed that the Grammy-winning group will play a show in

neighboring Columbia, S.C., in response to the cancellation. Indigo Girls

publicist Lisa Markowitz confirmed that the added concert was in the works and

would take place in the after-school hours at a yet-to-be-disclosed location.

Markowitz also said that students at Irmo High school were planning a walk-out

in response to the school's turning the Indigo Girls away. Administrators and

school-district spokespeople could not be reached for comment at press time.

In her statement, Saliers went on to say that the free high-school show, one of

four that the band has scheduled next week in the Southeast, was designed to

lift student's spirits during difficult times in American education.

"In the wake of recent violence in schools and the often bleak environment for

kids, which includes the cutting of school arts programs and a lack of creative

outlets," Saliers continued, "we believe that playing free high-school shows will

provide musical and emotional experience for high-school students."

Irmo High School principal Gerald Witt canceled the group's May 7 show at the

Irmo, S.C., school following complaints from parents and students not only

about the Indigo Girls' sexuality but also about holding a rock concert during a

school assembly. The cancellation was followed by word that another principal

in Tennessee was considering canceling another Indigo Girls gig. The

Georgia-based folk singers, Saliers and partner Amy Ray, who are openly gay,

were scheduled to play Irmo next Thursday as the last stop on a mini-tour in

support of their latest album, Shaming Of The Sun.

Jane Rish, a spokeswoman for School District 5, which is home to the 1,800-

student Irmo High, said her office received 30 to 40 calls on Wednesday in

support of the performance. "The most frequent complaint is that they felt like the

sexuality should not have been considered," Rish said.

Ernest Chism, the principal at Germantown High School in Germantown, Tenn.,

where the Indigo Girls are scheduled to play on May 5, told SonicNet Music

News early Thursday that he was considering canceling the show at his

school as well. "Certainly kids are entitled to their own persuasion," he said, "but

I don't think it's anything we want to get involved in as a school." Chism, who is

expected to make a decision about the show by Friday (May 1), couldn't be

reached by press time to determine if he had made a decision.

Meanwhile, representatives from Franklin High School in Franklin, Tenn., and

Farragut High in Knoxville, Tenn., reported Thursday that no one had registered

opposition to upcoming Indigo Girls concerts at their schools (next Monday and

Wednesday, respectively).

Despite getting a call from one of the high schools scheduled on the tour, Indigo

Girls manager Russell Carter said that the rest of group's mini-tour of

universities and high schools should go off without a hitch. "He said he had

heard about the situation, and he wanted to make sure that they were coming in

to play music and that there wasn't any hidden agenda," Carter explained,

refusing to say who had called him or from which school. "I said there wasn't

and he was cool about it.

"We set up a music concert because the Indigo Girls have a lot of fans who

are high-school kids and they want to go in and play their music," Carter

continued.

(Staff Writer Chris Nelson contributed to this report.)