I was wrong. In the June issue of the Prospect, I argued that Lilith Fair 2010 could remain relevant if it promoted up-and-coming artists, increased its diversity, and offered a counterpoint to hypersexualized pop music. Unfortunately, tonight is the last stop of the fair's revival after an 11-year hiatus, and it's about as irrelevant as anyone could have dreamed.
The biggest acts at tonight's D.C. show are Sarah McLachlan and the Indigo Girls. The latter have faded into relative obscurity despite a devoted fan base. McLachlan's notoriety remains, I suspect, because she organized the original run of Lilith.
The New York Times notes that a dozen shows were canceled due to low ticket sales -- this perhaps fueled by the fact that the lineups themselves were not made clear early on. Let's be real here: a Dallas show with no Erykah Badu? Badu was a major selling point of this tour, but somehow she, or Lilith's organizers, forgot that she had an album of her own to promote this summer. And she took the other half of Lilith Fair's black retro R&B team, Janelle Monae, with her.
The Times argues that the tour needs a new set of artists who fit into the ideals of the original festival. It suggests Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles are the heirs of the original run. But as much as I enjoy Michaelson's music, this is where I begin to wonder if I were wrong about my conclusion. It's the age of Lady Gaga and Beyonce -- women who are strong and successful despite the flaws of their chosen genres -- and maybe the stranglehold pop has on the world can't be broken by earnest guitars and pianos.
-- Shani O. Hilton
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