Guy Sebastian is pumping the brakes on #VaxTheNation.
The original Australian Pop joined more than 225 other artists from both sides of the Tasman by lending his voice and name to the industry’s campaign, an upbeat, nation-wide drive to vaccinate music fans.
In a new video message doing the rounds of social media, Sebastian apologises for a campaign message which, he claims, was posted to his page “without my direct involvement.”
The campaign has the “best of intentions for our live music industry which has been absolutely decimated,” he points out via his Instagram post.
However, “it is not my role to communicate in the way that that post was communicating. I would never ever tell people what to do when it comes to their personal health choices. I’m very sensitive of it, not only at a public level but in my personal life.”
Sebastian remains signed-up to the iniative, TIO understands, though the #VaxTheNation message has since been removed from his social pages.
“I’m really sorry,” he continues. “It was not a post that communicated with love or compassion which I feel is what what’s needed when it comes to addressing things like vaccinations.”
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Sebastian’s piece-to-camera has been criticised by a string of artists and industry advocates.
Ben Lee, who signed up for the campaign, tweeted, “To be honest, this is actually a really sad example of what happens when your career is dependent on trying to be all things to all people.”
To be honest, this is actually a really sad example of what happens when your career is dependent on trying to be all things to all people.— Ben Lee (@benleemusic) September 6, 2021
Urthboy (aka Tim Levinson) wrote, “Some artists are expending a huge amount of their cultural capital challenging audiences to get vaxxed. So much respect. And then there’s Guy Sebastian, one of our most successful artists, who sounds like he agrees with the science but is terrified of losing his anti-vax $.”
Some artists are expending a huge amount of their cultural capital challenging audiences to get vaxxed. So much respect. And then there's guy sebastian, one of our most successful artists, who sounds like he agrees with the science but is terrified of losing his anti-vax $— Urthboy (@urthboy) September 6, 2021
A statement from Sebastian’s management team insists the pop singer is not an anti-vaxxer, and that his stance is about the messaging, and the messenger.
“There is no confusion, I made the personal decision to be double vaccinated,” reads the statement. “I support the music industry initiatives to revive our industry, however, I personally don’t believe it is my place to deal in absolutes to tell people what to do in regards to their personal health choices. We need to remember to communicate with empathy and understanding. This has always been my goal.”
Organisers of #VAXTHENATION issued its own statement, noting the initiative “is not a political campaign tied to any Government, and we welcome open conversation. The campaign is self-funded by the industry and the position of the LIVE Alliance (Live Industry Venues and Entertainment Alliance) is that high vaccination rates are the only way to get the show back on the road.”
Sebastian is no stranger to criticism. Social media slammed the Sony Music star when he spoke at media conference last year, alongside Prime Minister Scott Morrison, for the unveiling of a survival package for the creative arts.
He’s currently a coach on Channel 7’s The Voice Australia and his most recent album T.R.U.T.H. debuted at No. 1 on the ARIA Albums chart in October 2020, for his third leader.
#VaxTheNation is an initiative of the so-called LIVE Alliance, gathering more than 400 industry organisations, businesses and acts.
Its underlying message is a simple one: “With a vaccinated nation, live events can and will happen. We’ve missed them. They’ve missed us. Let’s roll up our sleeves, get vaxxed and bring them back.”