During a Tuesday segment on “Good Morning Britain,” the composer known for “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera” said he spotted Rihanna singing “with a sort of karaoke band” while visiting Barbados years ago.
“She was singing there — this must have been about 12 years ago. I remember talking to Nigel Wright, who’s my music guy, and we were having a drink,” Webber recalled. “We thought, ‘She’s very, very good.’”
Attempting to explain why he ― an influential figure in the music industry ― did not approach her, Webber compared Rihanna to mere chattel. He worried that, should he deign to introduce her to other industry professionals overseas, he might find her less impressive in that setting ― like “a picture” or other souvenir that disappoints once you’ve brought it home from vacation.
“Then what do we do?” Webber said, deaf to the colonial undertones in his casual commentary.
When co-host Piers Morgan asked Webber if he ever thinks about how much money he missed out on by not acting on his impulse, the composer said, “It’s not a story I’m proud of.”
While it’s not uncommon to hear a producer or manager speak about “discovering” an artist, Webber and Morgan were strikingly oblivious to their words as they described a woman of color from an island nation as a pure commodity.
Of course, the resident bad gal is doing just fine without either of them. Aside from all her No. 1 hits and awards, she’s a fashion icon and a burgeoning actress.
Guess the joke’s on you, Sir Webber.