published Monday, June 10th, 2013

We'll see no Cee Lo at future Riverbends

Grammy Award-winning pop/R&B singer Cee Lo Green performs during the second night of the 2013 Riverbend Festival on the Coca-Cola Stage.
Grammy Award-winning pop/R&B singer Cee Lo Green performs during the second night of the 2013 Riverbend Festival on the Coca-Cola Stage.
Photo by C. B. Schmelter.

This story is featured in today's TimesFreePress newscast.

Should Riverbend have booked Cee Lo?

Cee Lo Green won't be coming back to Riverbend.

After the soul/R&B artist went rogue on Saturday night's stage, the music festival's organizers were flooded with complaints about Cee Lo's off-color language and late appearance.

Families who know him as a coach on NBC's "The Voice" perhaps weren't aware that his signature song, titled "Forget You" in general release, had a much coarser title on his 2010 "Ladykiller" album.

One festivalgoer tweeted, "Ceelo is taking [alcohol] shots on stage, cursing and now hardcore rapping. The family and Christian #riverbend attendees are freaking out. #hilarious."

But not everyone found it funny. Joe "Dixie" Fuller, the festival's talent and production coordinator, said he answered "very, very, very many disgruntled e-mails" on Sunday morning.

"It's safe to say he won't be coming back," said Chip Baker, executive director of the Friends of the Festival.

While he could explain Cee Lo taking the stage almost 45 minutes late, (the singer apparently experienced delays with his private jet at the airport), Fuller said there was no excuse for the profanity.

"This was something we had covered with his agency, that we were a family festival and that we didn't want that to happen," he said. "That is something we do our very best to curtail."

Fuller said Cee Lo's contract explicitly stated that inappropriate language would not be tolerated.

"We do everything within our power to make sure that does not happen on our stage," Fuller said. "We are all about family and we don't want anyone to be offended. He certainly knew that this was not acceptable."

Baker said he was disappointed with the night.

"To us, it was unacceptable," he said. "That was not the show we asked for."

But Fuller said there's little that can be done once the performance starts.

"Once a celebrity gets up on the stage and is under the lights it's very hard to stop the show," he said.

Fuller said he plans on speaking with Cee Lo's agents about the incident.

"We'll let the agency know we were disappointed and there needs to be more discussion about this," he said.

The Atlanta performer's press and management agencies didn't respond Sunday to requests for comment.

Fuller said there will be no repeats of Saturday night's performance.

"I will turn the music off if that happens again," he said. "I'm very disappointed and I apologize to the entire city. Those were not my wishes."

Contact staff writer Lindsay Burkholder at or 423-757-6592.

Riverbend 2013 Schedule
Live updates from Riverbend
about Lindsay Burkholder...

Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.

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