Musicians Sidestep SeaWorld Amidst Orca Controversy

A host of musicians who had been slated to appear at SeaWorld Orlando as part of a concert series at the park have changed their tune—electing to bow out rather than take bows before a captive audience of orcas. The mass exodus began shortly after CNN broadcast the documentary, Blackfish, in October 2013. Among the musical acts who have elected to cancel rather than take the SeaWorld stage: Willie Nelson, Barenaked Ladies, Tricia Yearwood, Cheap Trick, Heart, Martina McBride, 38 Special, and Trace Adkins. In addition to the concert cancellations, Joan Jett filed a cease and desist notice ordering SeaWorld to quit using her song, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” during the orca shows.

Blackfish examines the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau by one of the SeaWorld orcas, and shines a harsh light on the industry’s treatment of captive orcas and apparent lack of concern for the safety and well-being of its workers. The musicians, on the whole, were guarded in their comments concerning their reasons for backing out, but Willie Nelson was forthright: "I don't agree with the way they treat their animals …. What they do at SeaWorld is not OK."