I feel so badly for Kanye West. His mother, Donda West, passed away last week after suffering complications from a breast reduction and tummy tuck. Kanye canceled all of his public appearances for about a week, but for some reason chose to perform at his concert in Paris at Le Zénith on Saturday. I can’t imagine who would think this was a good idea. Aren’t celebrities supposed to have an entourage to talk them out of things like this? It just sounds like the kind of thing that could trigger a breakdown… which it sorta did. Though it’s certainly understandable. Kanye managed to perform for about an hour, and was going to close the show with “Hey Mama,” a song he wrote as an homage to Donda. But he couldn’t get through the introduction before he broke down in front of the crowd.
West attempted to introduce the tribute to a sold-out crowd at Le Zénith in Paris, saying “this song is for my mother….” and could get no further. “He just cracked,” one attendee tells PEOPLE, “He was at the end of his concert and had just started to dedicate the song and then he just lost it completely. He said the word, ‘Mother’ and just couldn’t go any further,” Le Parisien journalist Meddy Magloire said. “A back-up singer, the DJ and a guitar player came over to console him. It looked like he might collapse. He just couldn’t continue. He just stood there in a spotlight, crying while the band continued playing.”
After a few moments of stunned silence, Magloire says, the audience of 5,000 reacted by offering calls of encouragement, which grew into applause. The band restarted the song, but West left the stage, returning after 10-15 minutes to conclude the concert with a rousing performance of “Stronger.”
“He was very nervous, seemed to have gathered himself up, and had a lot of energy,” Magloire says. “He kept shouting out to the audience, ‘I need you… I need you right now.’ and the public was screaming back. It was magic.”
I’m amazed that Kanye tried to perform at all. More power to him for being such a consummate professional. Kanye hadn’t been seen since his mother’s death last week. He was supposed to perform at the Victoria’s Secret show on Thursday and was replaced by the Black Eyed Peas Will.i.am. On Friday there was a memorial at Chicago State University, where Donda was a professor for 24 years. Kanye didn’t attend, which is totally understandable. It’s just very surprising that he did keep his Paris concert. We’ve certainly written a few articles about Kanye’s ego in the past – but if nothing else, part of that ego is deserved. He’s a great performer and he puts his all into his work. One would hope he’ll give himself the time and space to grieve, and not pressure himself to keep performing until he’s doing a little better. Donda’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in Oklahoma, and Kanye is expected to be there.
Note by Celebitchy: Here’s the video, thanks to user LionelVA36 on YouTube via ONTD. It definitely made me cry. Header image is of Kanye performing on 10/23/07 at the Power 99 FM Powerhouse Concert, before his mother passed. Thanks to Splash News.