Cyrus Chestnut returns to Detroit Symphony Orchestra after racial slur incident over holidays

Musician returned to Detroit after painful holiday performance

DETROIT – Cyrus Chestnut, a jazz musician, returned to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on Sunday after an audience member shouted a racial slur during his performance over the holidays.

In talking to Cyrus Chestnut on Sunday, you could feel the pain that blankets him over the racial slur someone yelled at him on Dec. 9 as he played Christmas music at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) during a holiday concert.

He was performing A Charlie Brown Christmas, as part of the Paradise Jazz series, when a man yelled out an (expletive) and then the (expletive) to the musicians onstage.

This is still deeply painful for Cyrus Chestnut and his musicians, because to him, this is so much bigger than just words someone yelled out. It was the comfort and ease with which the words were said, in a public venue, with the feeling of safety that there would be no repercussions or challenge.

That’s why it was so difficult for Mr. Chestnut to return to the DSO stage in Detroit on Sunday. But if he didn’t come, he believed hate would win.

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Related reading: Audience member shouted racial slur during Detroit Symphony Orchestra performance

About the Author:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.