A couple weeks ago, there was a Christian rally outside of Jackson Square, part of a national protest called the “Let Us Worship” tour, which has been drawing thousands of largely maskless worshipers around the country.
So a young lady named Lauren Daigle showed up. She sang to the crowd. And then a kerfuffle began.
Let me start by saying that I had never heard of Lauren Daigle before this November event. For those of you equally uninformed, Daigle is widely reported to be the most popular and successful female artist to come out of Louisiana since Britney Spears.
With apologies to Amanda Shaw, that’s saying a lot.
Daigle, a Lake Charles native and Lafayette resident, is a Christian rock giant – a genre with which I am not fully informed – but she’s charted #1 on the Christian charts for half a decade, as well as Billboard’s crossover pop charts. She’s won Grammys and every other award down the line. Too many to name here.
In short, she’s a Big Deal.
But she did that thing. That show. Big crowd, all the people smooshed together. Few masks. Lots of out loud and glorious praising, which, as you know, creates many droplets.
And you know what droplets can do these days.
So the fallout was this. Daigle had been slated to host the New Orleans segment of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast. We are one of several cities in different time zones on the show which draws millions of viewers every year. After the ball drops in Times Square in New York City, the world gets the thrill of watching the fleur-de-lis drop from the Jackson Brewery and then the telecast keeps moving west.
Well, Mayor LaToya Cantrell took umbrage at Daigle’s flaunting of city rules (the event had no permit) about large public gatherings during this, the winter of our discontent, the era of (anti)social distancing. She contacted the the producers of the show – not Dick Clark, because he’s dead. And she ordered that Daigle be removed from the broadcast.
So that happened. Daigle is out. Her replacement was named this week: Big Freedia. And if you don’t know the irony of that switcheroo, Google it. There’s not enough space here to explain the whack-a-doodleness of the whole affair.
OK, here’s a hint: Big Freedia is a loud and proud gay man who prefers the gender identity “she” when referencing her. She carries a purse and wears high end women’s fashion. Her musical genre is Bounce, the New Orleans version of hip-hop that rendered unto the world: The Twerk.
So, irony explained. Christian rocker out. Queen of Twerk in. But there’s another one.
Daigle was banned because she performed in public in Jackson Square. But on New Years Eve, no doubt hundreds, if not thousands, of revelers will descend upon the Square for an event sponsored by the city – the city that canceled her – to attend a ginormous party with no rules, regulations or restrictions.
Because it’s good publicity for the city. And no doubt for Big Freedia, who, may I add, deserves the shout out and exposure. She can rock the bells like nobody else.
Lauren Daigle, who did exactly what the city is endorsing and promoting and took the fall for it, no doubt, will be turning into the Christian Broadcasting Network instead of Dick Clark.
That’s just a guess.
And so the wheels of justice just keep on spinning in these curious pandemic times.
I often muse that one of New Orleans’ greatest charms is that we get everything wrong in just the right way. If you live here, you get that, right? It fits so well into the 2020 narrative and dialogue.
So, Happy New Years to Lauren, Britney, Dick Clark, Big Freedia and Mayor Cantrell. 2021 can’t get here fast enough.