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Janelle Monáe will not be headlining 2017 Kansas City jazz festival, organizers say

KCK native Janelle Monae’s previous headlining show in Kansas City was in November 2013 at the Uptown Theater, the same weekend she flipped the switch at the annual Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
KCK native Janelle Monae’s previous headlining show in Kansas City was in November 2013 at the Uptown Theater, the same weekend she flipped the switch at the annual Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Special to The Star

The excitement was short-lived. Not long after organizers of this year’s Kansas City Heritage & Jazz festival announced Wednesday morning that Janelle Monáe, a singer, songwriter and actress from Kansas City, Kan., would be one of the three-day festival’s headliners, Monae posted on Twitter that it was “untrue.”

“Unfortunately this is untrue information. An alternative fact,” she tweeted.

Organizers confirmed Wednesday night that Monáe, a six-time Grammy nominee, would not be performing.

“This morning, we were very proud to announce the Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival,” Jessica Thompson, director of communications for the American Jazz Museum, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we must retract the statement of Janelle Monáe performing at the (festival). Janelle was not confirmed for the event and was incorrectly advertised. ... The museum is working to secure another major headliner.”

Monáe tweeted later in the day: “I LOVE my city & look forward 2 performing there in the future! Unfortunately I never confirmed this show. I'm pissed you guys were misled.”

Many fans were disappointed, too. “Your city was looking forward to you bringing some of your joy back here where it started,” tweeted Mikkahnn2life.

Thompson said all other headliners had been confirmed: guitarist John Scofield, singer Brandy, violinist Regina Carter, the octet the Hot Sardines and multi-instrumentalist Trombone Shorty.

But refunds are available for ticket holders who had hoped to see Monáe.

The festival will run Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28. All music events will take place in and around the 18th and Vine District, including the Gem Theater and the Blue Room. The festival will also include a block party on May 25 and a jazz brunch May 29. And several cast members of the Fox TV series “Empire,” including Bryshere Y. Gray and Jussie Smollett (not listed is KCK native Trai Byers), will participate in a panel discussion on May 27.

Advance single-day tickets for main stage performances will be $50. Children 12 and younger accompanied by an adult will be admitted free. Tickets are available at kcjazzfest.com and by calling 816-474-8463.

The lineup will also to feature musicians from Kansas City, including Bobby Watson, Oleta Adams, Logan Richardson, Angela Hagenbach, Queen Bey and Eddie Moore.

Also in the news release, Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, executive director of the American Jazz Museum, said: “We want the Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival to be the premier live music festival in the Midwest celebrating Kansas City’s role as one of the key pillars of jazz in the nation and honoring the great and talented musicians in and from our wonderful city. It is not a festival just to have a festival. It’s a festival to build pride in who we are as Kansas City and our role in the heritage of jazz in the nation and the world.”

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

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