Melissa Viviane Jefferson Lizzo in green dress in front of purple background

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Made in America Festival canceled amid Lizzo scandal – but it may not be her fault

The cancellation is reportedly due to low ticket sales, but a lot of music fans wonder if Lizzo's scandals are to blame.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Aug 9, 2023   Updated on Aug 9, 2023, 10:44 am CDT

Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival is a Philadelphia fixture, held every Labor Day weekend. This year however, it won’t be happening. With less than a month to go, the festival announced its cancellation due to “severe circumstances outside of production control.” 

According to an inside source who spoke to NBC, this cancellation is thanks to low ticket sales. However a lot of people are wondering if those “severe circumstances” were actually a reference to Lizzo‘s recent abuse allegations.

Alongside SZA, Lizzo was one of the festival’s two headline acts. This would have been her first major performance since her recent lawsuit went public. So as the cancellation news spread on X, it inspired a flood of comments like “this means Lizzo is guilty guilty” and “the circumstances in question being lizzo.”

Many theorized that either Lizzo dropped out, or that her recent scandals caused friction with festival sponsors. However there’s also some pushback against the Lizzo-related theories, with music fans pointing out that other festivals have survived high-profile acts dropping out.

@jordantalexander I don’t think it’s just #lizzo not being able to co-headline #madeinamericafestival with #SZA. SZA honestly could headline it herself, but also with how well #coachella handled #frankocean pulling out and putting in #skrillex, #fredagain and #fourtet I think another headliner would have been “easy” to find a replacement. Especially with a month to go. #metroboomin would have been a great choice! All in all, I think there was more than just Lizzo and her current surrounding legal standing/#drama. Also, keep #icespice and #doechii in your prayers they’re having a hard touring summer and they aren’t even the problem lol. Just bystanders and collateral damage. Free my girls!! . #musicfestival #musicindustry #jayz #philadelphia #popculture #popstars #commentary #quickandhottakes ♬ original sound – Jordan T. Alexander
@simplysimone Cancelling a festival as big as Made in America 3 weeks before the event definitely is something that raises eyebrows. What do y’all think? #madeinamericafestival #lizzo #lizzolawsuit #festivalseason #popculturenews ♬ original sound – Simone Umba

Sure, Lizzo was one of the two headline acts. But if she did secretly pull out, the festival should have been able to survive without her. Couldn’t they find a suitable replacement?

This lends credence to the idea that the “severe circumstances” around Made in America’s cancellation were more complicated than a single celebrity scandal. That NBC source did blame the cancellation on low ticket sales, and despite the success of a few touring superstars like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, the live music industry is going through serious problems right now.

Shows get canceled all the time – especially in Philadelphia, oddly enough. Beyoncé canceled a show there just last month, and SZA has canceled enough Philly shows that fans are joking about a “Philly curse.” So while the Made in America cancellation is a bad look for Lizzo’s post-scandal career, it may not actually be her fault.

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*First Published: Aug 9, 2023, 10:42 am CDT