Ani DiFranco has issued a statement/apology regarding her "Righteous Retreat" that was to be held in June at the Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana. The goal of the retreat was for musicians to work with her and other songwriters on their craft. She said that she initially accepted the invitation to play near her house in New Orleans because she could "could potentially come home to my own bed each night" but was not aware at first of the location. When she found out that it was being held on a former slave plantation, however, that didn't really change her mind too much until there was a large public outcry over the where it would be held (including a petition); she hoped that the setting would be a conversation starter. The location was largely criticised because of its casual attitude towards the history of slavery with its website parading how well owner John Hampden Randolph treated his slaves.

The property was commissioned in 1855 by Randolph, and it was once one of the largest plantations in the South. The Historic Hotels of America trust now own the land, and the space is used for weddings and conferences. DiFranco would be performing at the retreat with poet Buddy Wakefield, as well as musicians Toshi Reagon and Ed Hamell. Camping tickets ranged anywhere from $1000 to $4000. Read an excerpt of her statement below.

i have heard you: all who have voiced opposition to my conducting a writing and performing seminar at the nottoway plantation. i have decided to cancel the retreat.

when i agreed to do a retreat (with a promoter who has organized such things before with other artists and who approached me about being the next curator/host/teacher), i did not know the exact location it was to be held. i knew only that it would be "not too far outside of new orleans" so that i could potentially come home to my own bed each night. and i knew that one of the days of the retreat was slated as a field trip wherein everyone would come to new orleans together. later, when i found out it was to be held at a resort on a former plantation, I thought to myself, “whoa”, but i did not imagine or understand that the setting of a plantation would trigger such collective outrage or result in so much high velocity bitterness. i imagined instead that the setting would become a participant in the event. this was doubtless to be a gathering of progressive and engaged people, so i imagined a dialogue would emerge organically over the four days about the issue of where we were. i have heard the feedback that it is not my place to go to former plantations and initiate such a dialogue.

Head on over to her blog for the full statement.