New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell may not want Lauren Daigle to perform at "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" in New Orleans, but Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory says he'd be happy to have her.
“We would be honored to host Lauren Daigle in Lafayette to ring in 2021. It would be a truly great way to safely say goodbye to 2020," Guillory posted on Facebook.
Cantrell asked the production company to remove the Louisiana singer-songwriter from its live television performance lineup after Daigle participated in a controversial, mostly mask-free rally in the French Quarter last month. An estimated 400 people, most without masks despite the coronavirus pandemic, attended the outdoor gathering organized by activist pastor Sean Feucht and drew harsh criticism.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon in response to a number of public officials who have weighed in on her controversial appearance, Daigle said she was never offered an invitation to perform. "I would have been, and still would be, honored to represent our city on New Year’s Eve and although I was aware of discussions regarding my involvement, an offer was never made."
Daigle, who was born in Lake Charles and grew up in Lafayette, said she is "disappointed that my spontaneous participation" in the French Quarter rally "has become part of the political discourse and I’m saddened by the divisive agendas of these times."
Her involvement, she said, was "focused on lifting spirits, providing hope and encouragement during these polarizing times."
So far, the Guillory administration has not heard from or reached out to producers of Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve.
In her letter to the television show's producers, Cantrell wrote, "Ms. Daigle cannot and should not be rewarded with national media exposure 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."
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser criticized Cantrell's letter, saying the New Year's Eve show promotes New Orleans and citing Daigle as "the state’s voice of the Sunshine Tourism Recovery Plan," according to WDSU. "I am shocked and disappointed that the mayor would attack one of our own in this manner."
On Monday, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry also pledged his support for Daigle.
Landry told Daigle he vows to protect her rights to protest and worship and offered his assistance to “work with more hospitable regions in our State,” and joined Guillory in suggesting the event could be moved to Lafayette.
Here's the full text of Daigle's statement Thursday:
"I love the city of New Orleans. Its music, culture and creative people are unlike any other, and its rich history should be celebrated. That is what my work within the city has always focused on — my deep desire to see New Orleans and its music scene flourish.
"To be clear, I had no part in creating or planning the event that took place in the French Quarter last month. I was not scheduled to perform, and I was not a part of its promotion. Out riding my bike with a friend, I saw NOPD barricades set in place and uniformed police officers providing protection for a gathering of people that had come to pray. I was asked to sing.
"To me, that is the very moment when music serves its higher purpose. It’s what gives people encouragement, hope for a better future, and it’s what can usher joy into their hearts. My involvement was focused on lifting spirits, providing hope, and encouragement, during these polarizing times.
"I’m disappointed that my spontaneous participation has become part of the political discourse and I’m saddened by the divisive agendas of these times.
"I would have been, and still would be, honored to represent our city on New Year’s Eve and although I was aware of discussions regarding my involvement, an offer was never made. I have wept, pleading for this chaos to dissipate and for harmony to return. We need unity when people are desperate, suffering, starving or out of work.
"I have a deep and profound love for the state of Louisiana, for the city of New Orleans and the people that reside here. I want to thank everyone who has offered kind words and support. They have been a balm for my soul throughout this process."