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"Blatant Racism": Paramore Refuse Tennessee Honour in Solidarity With Allison Russell

After Tennessee passed a resolution celebrating Paramore's Grammys but blocked one honouring Russell's win, the band has turned down the symbolic honour, calling out the state leadership's "blatant racism."

Paramore

Paramore

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Earlier this week, state legislators in Tennessee sought to honour two Nashville Grammy winners: Paramore, and Americana artist Allison Russell, who also grew up in Montreal. While the resolution celebrating Paramore passed without issue, Republican House Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison blocked the resolution honouring Russell, sending it back to committee to languish.

Now, Paramore are turning down the symbolic honour, and calling out the legislature's failure to honour a queer Black artist.


"Paramore will not accept any acknowledgment or honor from the TN House until Allison Russell is given the same recognition," the band wrote on an Instagram story. In a full statement to the Tennessean, frontwoman Hayley Williams explains the decision.

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"Allison Russell is an incredibly talented musician and songwriter. Her music spans genres with strong ties to the Folk/Americana scenes. You might have seen her on the Grammy stage performing with the great Joni Mitchell," the statement says. "Oh, she is also Black."

"The blatant racism of our state leadership is embarrassing and cruel," Williams writes. "Myself, as well as Paramore, will continue to encourage young people to show up to vote with equality in mind." Russell quoted those two sentences on X, sharing Paramore's statement and adding an "Amen!"

Paramore's members are all white. Both Williams and Russell have been outspoken about recent anti-LGBTQ legislation in Tennessee, and Williams appeared at last year's benefit for queer organizations, Love Rising, organized in part by Russell. But only Russell was denied the state's celebration of her recent musical accomplishments.

"On behalf of Paramore, happy Black History Month," concludes Williams' statement.

Representative Justin Jones, who helped bring forth the resolutions honouring Paramore and Russell, decried the resolution's failure. "There were two resolutions on the consent calendar that night, one for Paramore and one for Allison Russell. Both have been vocal voices for justice, but only the Black queer woman was bumped off," Jones said, according to the Tennessean. Jones was expelled by the Tennessee House last year for protesting in favour of stronger gun control in the state, following a mass shooting. Faison, who objected to the Russell resolution, also led the effort to expel Jones.

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Russell said online that she took the resolution's failure as a compliment. "Their bigotry, sadly, is on relentless display," she added. Russell begins a Canadian tour later this month, followed by a series supporting dates for Hozier and Tyler Childers. She won her first Grammy this month in the best American roots performance category, for her song "Eve Was Black."

Read Hayley Williams’ full statement below:

This week, Rep. Justin Jones put forth resolutions to honor my band, Paramore and another local-to-Nashville artist, Allison Russell, on our recent Grammy wins (as far as I can tell these resolutions have no legal weight to them. They’re like a big high five or when the whole restaurant joins in to sing you “Happy Birthday”).

House Republicans only let the measure that acknowledged Paramore’s win pass. They blocked Allison’s.

For those that don’t know, Allison Russell is an incredibly talented musician and songwriter. Her music spans genres with strong ties to the Folk/Americana scenes. You might have seen her on the Grammy stage performing with the great Joni Mitchell.

Oh, she is also Black. She’s a brilliant Black woman.

The blatant racism of our state leadership is embarrassing and cruel. Myself, as well as Paramore, will continue to encourage young people to show up to vote with equality in mind.

I’d like to say thank you to Brother Jones for your steadfast commitment to your community.
And thank you to Allison Russell for using your voice and artistry to band people together, not tear them apart. CONGRATS on your incredible Grammy night.

On behalf of Paramore, Happy Black History Month.
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