BET has put together a three-hour concert to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic voting-rights march in Selma, Alabama on Sunday with scheduled appearances by Bill Withers and Rick Ross, among others. But it’s one name in particular that has drawn scrutiny: Vanilla Ice.
The president of BET Event Productions, Paxton Baker, who helped select the Salute Selma lineup with Harry Belafonte, recently explained the surprising booking to AL.com, which described the “Ice, Ice Baby” rapper as “not the type of artist [one] would expect to perform at a concert celebrating one of the seminal moments in the American civil rights movement.”
“Vanilla Ice was in the Soul Train Awards two years ago and he’s a really cool person,” Baker said. “When we call him for things, he likes working with us and we like working with him. He’s one of the people we call to participate in things with us, and if he can do it, he absolutely will. I sent him a text and within two minutes his response was two words: ‘I’m in.'”
The exec also explained that the network only began booking the event on February 19th when Selma reps asked for help putting together the March 8th event.
Vanilla Ice will perform “one of his own songs,” according to AL.com (and it’s easy to speculate which one hit he’ll play) alongside an updated version of the 1989 single “Self Destruction,” the anthem for the Stop the Violence Movement led by KRS-One. Joining him for the performance will be Rick Ross, Bell Biv DeVoe, Flavor Flav, Doug E. Fresh, MC Lyte, D-Nice and other artists who have yet to be announced.
The concert will take place on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where authorities attacked King’s peaceful protesters during their march toward Montgomery on what subsequently became known as Bloody Sunday, March 7th, 1965. Other artists confirmed to appear include Aloe Blacc, BeBe Winans, Kirk Franklin, Yelawolf, Blind Boys of Alabama and Keith Sweat, among others.
Belafonte and Peter, Paul and Mary’s Peter Yarrow, both of whom participated in a concert for those marching with Dr. King five decades ago, will also take part in the event.