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Musician Ben Harper plans to leave 'toxic' US to live in France

The singer-songwriter is considering Toulouse, Bordeaux or Paris. He says he is leaving the US due to its ‘backwards’ position on abortion, racism, and guns

Ben Harper playing guitar as he performs in concert

Despite ‘deep roots’ in California, the artist said that he cannot go back to the States because of the racism, guns, and ‘backwards step’ on abortion Pic: Melanie Lemahieu / Shutterstock

US singer-songwriter Ben Harper has said he wants to come and live in France after condemning the United States as “toxic”.

The three-time Grammy-award-winning artist, who has just released his new album called ‘Bloodline Maintenance’ is set to perform a final concert in the US before leaving his country “with sadness”, he has said.

In an interview with Libération, published on July 22, Mr Harper said that his current view of the US was “very depressing, a huge sadness, I don’t really like to talk about it”. 

The 52-year-old said that he had decided to leave his birth country for good due to its “racism, and guns”, and its recent “step back” on abortion rights. 

Speaking about his new album, he said: “It was as if I got a new wind of creativity and I was adventuring in places I had never been before.”

Read more: Americans demonstrate in Paris against US threat to abortion right

And yet, talking about his home country, he said: “I can’t go back to the US. This country is moving backwards, it’s no longer tenable.

“The decision to go back on the right to abortion is a step backwards. There’s that, the racism, the guns…all that has become too toxic for me.” Despite having “deep roots” in California, he said that now “is the moment to leave”.

Mr Harper has said that he would like to live in France with his family, instead. He said: “Maybe Toulouse, Bordeaux, or Paris.”

The musician performed the second concert of his career in France, at the Transmusicales de Rennes in 1993 and has become very popular in the country. 

He was so popular in the early 2000s that he was French Rolling Stone magazine's Artist of the Year (Artiste De L'Année) in 2003.

He said: “I still can’t really explain it. There are just some music genres that resonate more deeply here. One of the rare conversations I had with Jeff Buckley was about France, because his music worked really well [in France] at the same time as mine. We were both amazed.”

Mr Harper is not the only high-profile figure to suggest leaving the US for good after the Supreme Court voted to overturn the Roe v Wade ruling on abortion rights in June.

Read more: France proposes bill to enshrine right to abortion in constitution

Actress and producer Taraji P. Henson has also recently said similar. Other stars such as Mariah Carey, Taylor Swift and LeBron James have also come out against the ruling.

Yet, in an interview with Le Monde, actress-turned-activist Jane Fonda said that it was better to “fight” from within the US and that she would “not be going into retirement” or leaving the country.

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