Stevie Wonder says he won't perform in Florida or any other state with a stand-your-ground law.

In a statement made during a concert in Quebec City on Sunday and posted on YouTube, the 63-year-old singer said that until the stand-your-ground law is abolished in Florida, he will "never perform there again."  

He went on, extending the boycott to any state where the law exists. 

"I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world," Wonder said.  

The stand-your-ground law allows people to use deadly force if they believe their life is in danger and was a factor in the trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida neighbourhood watch volunteer who was acquitted of second-degree murder in the death of teenage Trayvon Martin a day before Wonder's statement.  


Stevie Wonder and Nelson Mandela embrace at Mandela's residence in 1998 after a performance for the South African president. In 1985, Wonder’s music was banned from state-run radio after he dedicated an Academy Award to the imprisoned leader. (Reuters)

Zimmerman, who said during his trial that he fired his gun in self-defence, shot 17-year-old Martin during a February 2012 confrontation in Sanford, Fla. A six-member jury acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges on Saturday.  

More than half the states in the U.S. have a version of the stand-your-ground law known as the Castle Doctrine, which permits use of force to defend one’s home against an intruder.

Florida, along with 15 other states extend the right to not back down to vehicles and workplaces.

Singer takes a stand

Wonder is the latest performer to make a stand after the Zimmerman verdict. Singer Beyonce Knowles held a moment of silence during a concert in  Nashville, Tenn. on Sunday, the same day her sister, Solange Knowles, held a rally in New York. The 27-year-old singer encouraged attendees to "Wear hoodies, bring signs and their voices!" in a post on Twitter before the rally.

Wonder’s boycott signals a shift, said CBC arts reporter Deana Sumanac.

"Wonder is no political lightweight," Sumanac said.

Nor is this the musician’s first boycott. In 1980, Wonder refused to play in Arizona until the state recognized Martin Luther King Jr. day. 

"Stevie Wonder is a revered cultural figure, as respected for his music as for his politics," Sumanac said.

In 1985, Wonder’s music was banned from state-run radio in South Africa after he dedicated an Academy Award to Nelson Mandela.

"I would not be surprised if his decision to boycott Florida sways other pop stars to follow suit," Sumanac said.