Durham Mayor Williams talks Bimbé festival, Monica investigation: 'I know we aren't lying'

Anthony Wilson Image
Monday, May 20, 2024
Durham mayor talks Bimbé festival fallout
"We had a contract. Our attorneys vetted it."

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The annual Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival in Durham attracts many people with an appreciation of African American arts, crafts, cuisine and music.

That last attraction often involves a nationally known recording artist who performs live.

However, on Saturday, mixed messages about the status of the singer people expected to perform for this year's festival lit up on social media.

Disappointed fans of Monica wondered what was going on when she posted an Instagram message and a video that disputed publicity that mentioned her as a live performer at the 54th annual Bimbe.

Monica insists on the Instagram video, "I was not contacted, I was not contracted, I never even heard of the festival until today."

Now disappointed fans want to know what happened, and why?

WATCH | Singer Monica disputes claim she was to perform at Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival

Disappointed fans of Monica wondered what was going on after she posted an IG video that she would not be performing at the 2024 Bimbe' cultural fesival.

By Saturday afternoon, City Hall posted a tweet and sent a statement to ABC11 that reads:

"We regret to inform you that, due to circumstances beyond our control, Monica will not be attending Bimbe as previously announced. Working with a booking agent, whom we've worked with and trusted for years, we have been under the impression since January 19, 2024, and then reaffirmed again on February 9, 2024, that arrangements had been secured for the singer to appear, and we began publicizing her appearance. "We are deeply disappointed with this turn of events and are working fervently to determine how this happened. We sincerely apologize to guests who attend Bimbe and enjoy our festival. Despite this setback, Bimbe will still proceed as planned today, with a lineup filled with exceptionally talented regional performers. We also look forward to honoring two special individuals with the Homegrown Hero award as part of today's festivities and hope that you will join us in embracing the spirit of Bimbe."

Nashiya Robinson Holloway, a vendor at Bimbé, told ABC11 she thinks it was likely a scam that happened.

"And it just unfortunate that somebody got, you know, taken pretty much advantage of and the whole thing fell through," Robinson Holloway said.

Under Investigation

Durham's Mayor Leonardo Williams is aware of the situation and gave ABC11 an update Monday morning.

"There was a drop in communication there. For her not to know at all that we are under contractual agreements that she would be there, someone may or may not be telling the truth here," he said. "I know that we aren't lying."

He said they had a contract.

"Our attorneys vetted it," Williams said. "We went through the whole process like we normally do, like we've done over 54 years. We are trying to find out where that ball was dropped between our representatives and her representatives."

He said, "We are getting every brown penny back" of a down payment that was part of that contractual agreement he mentioned.

Previously, when we requested an interview Saturday about the situation, we got texts from Williams that read, "I just got word that the matter is under investigation, and I've been asked to hold off on public comment. There may be potential criminal activity."

We'll update this story as we get confirmation and facts from Durham City Hall.

Bimbé is a free festival that celebrates African and African American heritage, arts and traditions, will still proceed as planned, with a lineup of regional performers.