Paramore Rebuffs Honor After Tenn. GOP Disses Black Singer

Hayley Williams decries 'cruel' move to deny similar honor for fellow Grammy winner Allison Russell
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2024 7:58 AM CST
Paramore Rebuffs Honor After Tenn. GOP Disses Black Singer
Hayley Williams performs on March 20 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.   (Photo by Ed Rode/Invision/AP)

Last week, Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones brought a pair of resolutions to the floor of the state's House of Representatives, honoring the pop band Paramore and the folk musician Allison Russell for winning Grammys earlier this month. After a Republican lawmaker stymied one of those resolutions, however—that of Russell, who's Black—Paramore's lead singer is now pushing back in support of her fellow Nashville-area singer. House GOP Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison was the one who raised the objection to Russell, which effectively pulled the resolution off the chamber's consent calendar and sent it back to committee—a move the Tennessean calls the "death knell" for such resolutions.

In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Faison denied that the resolution had been "blocked," but he noted that multiple members had come to him with questions about Russell, "which made it appropriate for us to press pause on that particular resolution." The Washington Post notes that Russell has been a very vocal critic of Tennessee Republicans, including after they expelled Jones and fellow Democratic Rep. Justin Pearson, who are both Black, from their seats last year (the two were eventually reinstated in a special election). Jones decried Faison's move, noting that both Paramore and Russell "have been vocal voices for justice, but only the Black queer woman was bumped off" the consent calendar, per the Tennessean.

"It's shameful that this body, during a month where we honor Black voices and history, want to replay out this type of Jim Crow thinking that's rooted in a legacy of racism," Jones said Monday on the House floor, per the Post. On Friday, Paramore said they wouldn't accept "any acknowledgment or honor" from the House until Russell received the same, with lead singer Hayley Williams calling Russell "an incredibly talented musician and songwriter" and "brilliant Black woman," per a statement. "The blatant racism of our state leadership is embarrassing and cruel." As for Russell, she noted in an Instagram post that "I take as a compliment" that Republicans blocked the resolution in her name. "Their bigotry, sadly, is on relentless display." Russell also quoted Williams' remarks on X, adding an "Amen!" (More Paramore stories.)

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