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Tennessee GOP Blocks Measure Honoring Allison Russell but OKs Paramore



When it comes to Tennessee’s recently Grammy-winning musical heroes, the state’s House Republicans are making it clear — they’re good with Paramore, but not so much Allison Russell, for reasons yet to be explained.

Tennessee Rep. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) brought resolutions before the body to honor the Grammy achievements of Paramore, who won for best rock album and best alternative music performance, and Russell, who picked up her first Grammy for best American roots performance for the song “Eve Was Black.”

Although both Russell and Paramore singer Hayley Williams have made their displeasure with the GOP-controlled legislature known in the past, only one of these two proclamations was blocked. The resolution honoring Paramore sailed through, but the complementary one celebrating Russell was effectively killed.

It was House Republican Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison who balked at the Russell resolution, in what the Tennessean described as “a procedural move that kicked Jones’ resolution off the night’s consent calendar and back to committee, where objected consent items often die.”

Russell thanked Jones for trying. “That you and (Rep. Gloria Johnson) presented this resolution is a high honour. That the TN GOP blocked it, I take as a compliment,” Russell wrote on her social media accounts. “Their bigotry, sadly, is on relentless display. We have a chance this year to make a real change in TN.”

The progressive website the Tennessee Holler posted video in which Jones stood up during an announcements portion of the session and attempted to speak up about the proclamation being blocked. He began by saying, “The announcement is to announce there are people in our midst who are making Black history, and I want to honor them during this Black History Month… I would like to announce that it’s concerning that this body chooses to denigrate —” At that point, the Republican chair of the House cut off Jones’ mic, according to the Tennessean, explaining that Jones’ comment did not count as an announcement.

Both Williams and Russell appeared at a “Love Rising” benefit at the Bridgestone Arena last year protesting the state’s then-newly enacted anti-drag laws, a show that also included stars like Hozier, Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires and Maren Morris.

Jones and Johnson are two of the three “Tennessee three” legislators whom Republicans attempted to banish from the House last year. Both of the representatives appeared at last fall’s Americana Honors & Awards in Nashville to give a special free-speech award to Russell. The Paramore singer, for her part, has also supported the outnumbered Democrats, including posing with Jones in a photo under which, in a caption, the legislator characterized Williams as a fellow fighter of fascism.

“Tonight my Republican colleagues blocked a resolution honoring Black American Roots artist Allison Russell for her first Grammy win,” Jones wrote on social media after his interrupted defense of the singer. “(Russell) has worked tirelessly to foster an inclusive Nashville through her music and continues to make Black History here in Tennessee.”

The wording of the proclamation that got nixed by the GOP did not mention anything about her politics or activism, nor the fact that she identifies as a queer woman. The resolution generally lauded Russell’s musicianship, mentioning her eight Grammy nominations to date as well as her fresh win, calling her “one of her generation’s finest folk artists… her sonic and cultural contributions will undoubtedly go on to inspire generations to come.”

The Tennessee Holler further posted video of an attempt to confront Rep. Faison after the session, asking the GOP chair, “Hey, Jeremy… what’s your problem with Allison Russell?” Faison did not turn to answer, and has thus far not explained why he blocked Russell’s proclamation while not objecting to Paramore’s.


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