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Anita Baker Needs a Handler

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By Veronica Mackey

It has been 3 full days since news hit that R&B songstress Anita Baker cancelled her concert in Atlanta Mother’s Day Weekend, just minutes before she was expected to perform.  It was supposed to be a special night for moms, grandmoms and aunties—to see and hear that smooth, sultry, velvety-voiced singer with a sound all her own. 

Three full days after the cancellation and the only thing we’ve heard from the Baker camp is crickets.  To be fair, there was an announcement (if you want to call it that) that Baker had to cancel due to “late unforeseen circumstances.”  Right.  I’m sure if her fans had the foresight to know in advance it was a no-show, they would have made other plans.

It had to be a heart-wrenching ordeal for fans, as they filed out of the Atlanta State Farm Arena, confused over what might have happened.   Some, no doubt, travelled from many miles, dressed up, paid good money, and even hired a babysitter, expecting to have a Mother’s Day they would never forget (in a good way).

But the real gut punch, to me, was the total lack of respect shown when no one came forward to explain.  Fans deserved something more than a promise of a refund and the vague excuse of unforeseen circumstances. 

Here we have an 8-time Grammy Award winner, and her team couldn’t even conjure up a decent statement?  Where is her PR person?  Her handler?  If she was ill, why not just say that? 

The public often takes potshots at celebrities who try and spin the news a certain way when they find themselves in hot water.  But this is what they are supposed to do. Anyone in the limelight knows the value of having someone on their payroll, ready to put out a statement to quell negative public opinion.  In this crazy time of social media overload, it’s not just a good idea.  It’s necessary.

Social media has made everyone a potential journalist, and folks are all too eager to put out their own statements about a particular subject.  As expected, reaction to the Baker’s last-minute no-show was swift and cutting.  Rumors began to swirl that she was sick; some said she wasn’t even in the state.

TikTok user @cocanails said “I spent $180 for the ticket and $55 for parking. This is trash.”  The video has received over 2.8 million views to date.

Someone joked, “She should do a concert with Lauryn Hill,” who also has a reputation for being extremely late or not showing up at all.

This is not the first time the diva has ruffled feathers.  Just last year, she was at the center of drama during her “Songstress” tour which included Babyface. 

There were reports of technical difficulties which delayed one of the shows, and Babyface was asked not to perform so she could have time to perform her full range of songs.

Babyface fans were not pleased and let Baker know it.  She then dropped the R&B singer/songwriter from the tour altogether due to “cyberbullying” by his fans.  She also asked her fans to block and report Babyface fans who said anything negative about her on social media.

Babyface replied: “It’s unfortunate and disheartening to see how things played out via social media…While I was looking forward to the rest of the dates, I have nothing but love and respect for Anita and I wish her the best for the remainder of the tour.”

That’s how you do it.  Issue a timely statement.  Spin it as positively as possible and keep it pushing.

“Anita Baker has a notorious history and reputation of being a rude…and unpredictable performer, yet ppl still purchased tickets,” @MsJazzybelle tweeted.  “Black folks love to continuously support artists/businesses who don’t respect their time or money.”

If Anita Baker wants to continue touring, she needs a good PR person, to say the least.  Someone who can help repair her declining public image.  She’s not looking too good right now, and it’s hard to watch a legend go out like this.


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