A keyboard player in Macy Gray’s band claims he was told he wasn’t allowed to wear his ‘Free Brittney Griner’ t-shirt when they performed on NBC’s Today Show.
Keyboardist Billy Wes showed up to the performance Friday at the show’s studio in New York wearing a black shirt with ‘Free Brittney Griner’ in bold white lettering on the front, but during the appearance , he wore a plain black shirt .
He had hoped to show his support for Griner, but said TMZ after the show “they said I couldn’t wear it”.
It’s unclear who told West he wasn’t allowed to wear the shirt. DailyMail.com has asked The Today Show for comment.
Wes and Gray did not reveal the reason Wes was forced to hide the protest message, although Gray said “I don’t think it’s political”.
“He’s a human being in a really awful situation and there are people who have the power to do something about it, and that’s what they should do,” the singer added.
It came the same day Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in Russia and now faces up to 10 years in prison. The WNBA star has been held in prison since February and there has been mounting public pressure on the Biden administration to secure his release.
Keyboardist Billy Wes arrived at the show wearing a shirt to protest the detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner in Russia
Macy Gray and her band, including Billy Wes, performed on the Today’ show on the same day Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in Russia
Billy Wes can be seen wearing a plain shirt on stage, but was photographed wearing a shirt that read ‘Free Brittney Griner’ just before the performance
Gray bassist Alex Kyhn posted a photo on Instagram with the shirt in question
Griner pleaded guilty this week to drug possession and trafficking at her trial in Moscow, but said she had no intention of committing a crime. The WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist is pictured being escorted into a courtroom in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday July 7, 2022
In court Thursday, Griner pleaded guilty on the second day of his trial.
“I would like to plead guilty, Your Honor. But there was no intention. I didn’t want to break the law,” Griner said, speaking an English that was later translated into Russian for the court.
The basketball player was arrested in February after she was caught carrying two vape cartridges containing cannabis oil through a Moscow airport. She has been detained since then and her next hearing will be on July 14.
The White House said President Joe Biden called Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, on Wednesday to assure her that he was doing everything he could to secure the athlete’s release as soon as possible. They spoke after Biden read a letter from Griner in which she said she feared she would never return home.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, however, warned that the “hype” surrounding the case is not helping and urged the United States to cease all correspondence with the basketball player who was recently tried in Russia.
Vladimir Putin’s administration has said that would only make a prisoner swap less likely.
“It not only distracts attention from the case, but creates interference in the truest sense of the word,” Ryabkov said. ‘Silence is needed here.’
The State Department named Griner as wrongfully detained, placing her case under the supervision of its presidential special envoy for hostage affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.
Griner’s wife, Cherelle, was reassured by President Biden that “he is working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible,” the White House said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Macy Gray also discussed her views on transgender issues on the Today Show following her unrestricted interview on Piers Morgan Uncensored earlier this week in which she said: “It’s not because you are going to change your parts that you are a woman, sorry.
“I never wanted to hurt anyone. I think it takes a lot of courage to be yourself. Anyone in the LGBTQ community is a hero,” she told host Hoda Kotb.
“I said things that didn’t go over well, but my intention was never to hurt anyone. I feel bad for hurting some people and I think it’s about nurturing, talking and getting to a place where we understand each other,’ Gray explained.
She added that the backlash was “a huge learning experience for me”.
“You can call yourself whoever you think you are and no one can dictate it to you or take it away from you.
Gray has come under fire for her comments about transgender people she made on a show with Piers Morgan. Singer said ‘changing your roles doesn’t make you a woman’ but has since backtracked on her statements
Gray told the Today show that “it was a huge learning experience for me” and that she “learned a lot” after Morgan’s interview.
During his interview with Morgan on Monday night, Gray said women have “a very unique experience and ‘surgery and self-discovery’ doesn’t change that.”
‘Being a little girl is quite an epic book, you know? You can’t have this just because you want to be a woman.
When Piers pointed out that Harry Potter author JK Rowling had been criticized for her views on trans women, Gray said, “But it’s the truth.”
Adding: “I don’t think you should be called a transphobe just because you disagree…there’s a lot of judgment and stone throwing at people for just saying what it is, do you know what i mean?”
Gray also faced a backlash online and tweeted on Tuesday, “I have nothing but love for the lgbt+ and transgender communities.” I’ve been a fan since day one and never a fake. my statement about Piers Morgan was grossly misunderstood. I respect everyone’s right to be whoever they want to be. She later deleted the tweet.
Singer Macy Gray has opened up about her comment that a trans woman on ‘Piers Morgan Uncensored’ claimed she was ‘misunderstood’
On Monday, Gray also retweeted supporting author JK Rowling who said, “Today is a good day to make sure I’ve bought all of Macy Gray’s back catalog.”
Rowling, who herself has sparked outrage for anti-transgender statements, backed Gray as the singer faced charges of “transphobia” following her comments on the show.
Rowling threw her support behind the singer, tweeting a screenshot of Gray’s tweet saying ‘the truth hurts’ after broadcaster India Willoughby accused the singer of ‘killing what’s left of her career’ after the Piers Morgan Uncensored interview.