Following a complaint from the mayor of New Orleans, popular Christian singer Lauren Daigle has reportedly been removed from the lineup for the annual "Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve" broadcast.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, a Democrat, wrote a letter to Amy Thurlow, president of Dick Clark Productions, expressing “urgent concerns” about the scheduled appearance of Daigle at the New Year’s Eve celebration, scheduled to be broadcast live from New Orleans for the Central time zone. Cantrell’s concerns surrounded Daigle’s participation in a “Let Us Worship” rally in the city last month.
According to the office of Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, a Republican, Cantrell’s Dec. 9 letter to Dick Clark Productions resulted in “a decision by Dick Clark Productions to Pull Lauren Daigle from the lineup and any celebration from Louisiana to be broadcast worldwide.”
According to NBC's New Orleans affiliate WDSU, “a city spokesperson said that only Daigle was pulled from the lineup and the New Orleans event is still on.” NOLA.com, however, reports that Daigle was never formally invited to participate in the event, according to a "source" close to her and Dick Clark Productions.
“I cannot in good conscience support the involvement of singer Lauren Daigle, who just last month participated in an unpermitted live performance which placed my residents in danger and threatened the tremendous progress New Orleans has made in combating the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cantrell wrote in the letter.
As Cantrell noted, Daigle performed at a “Let Us Worship” rally in New Orleans’ French Quarter on Nov. 7. The rally was one of several spearheaded by worship artist Sean Feucht in response to restrictions placed on houses of worship in response to the novel coronavirus. Cantrell referred to Feucht as a “provocateur” and slammed Daigle’s participation in an “unpermitted” event that was “in violation of critical public health guidelines my administration has put in place to save lives in our city,” adding, “It endangered lives.”
“Ms. Daigle cannot and should not be rewarded with national media and a public spotlight. She harmed our people, she risked the lives of our residents, and she strained our first responders in a way that is unconscionable — in the midst of a public health crisis. That is not who we are, and she cannot be allowed to represent New Orleans or the people she willfully endangered,” Cantrell added.
NOLA reports that, according to both Nungesser and a source close to Daigle, "... her participation [with Feucht onstage] was not advertised in advance; it was spontaneous. They say she was riding by on her bicycle, believed the event to be legitimate because of the presence of police and barricades, and accepted an invitation from Feucht, a longtime acquaintance from the Christian music world, to sing."
In response to the mayor's harsh criticism of Daigle, Louisiana’s Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry rushed to the singer's defense. Landry wrote a letter to Daigle, a native of Louisiana, remarking that Cantrell “appears to be targeting you because of your faith.”
Landry’s letter presented a different version of events regarding Daigle’s involvement in the “Let Us Worship” rally: “A group of individuals gathered in November in the French Quarter to protest and worship through prayer and song in a public square. You encountered the protesters while passing through on your bike and, at their invitation, you sang one song with them.”
The letter also accused Cantrell of imposing double standards regarding protests during coronavirus, noting that the “Let Us Worship” rally “occurred in the same location as a June protest that the city allowed.” Additionally, Landry maintained that “the religious protest has not been tied to any COVID-19 outbreaks.”
After informing Daigle of her legal rights to participate in the “Let Us Worship” rally, he offered the singer his “assistance to work with more hospitable regions in the state, like your home parish of Lafayette, if you and Dick Clark Productions wish to move the event.” Landry’s letter was written on Monday before it was officially announced that Daigle would not be participating in the New Year’s Eve event.
The “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” will air on ABC on Dec. 31, beginning at 8 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. CT. Seacrest will host the annual event, which is closed to the public this year due to coronavirus, alongside Lucy Hale and Billy Porter in New York City. A host for the Central time zone’s countdown to 2021 in New Orleans has yet to be announced.