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Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Now Spokesperson For Travis Scott Following Astroworld Tragedy

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is now the spokesperson for rapper Travis Scott in the wake of a deadly crowd surge at the Astroworld Festival in Houston.

Eight people were killed at the event, including two teenagers, when the crowd surged toward the stage last Friday. Bharti Shahani, a 22-year-old student, became the ninth person to die in the tragedy on Thursday.

Rawlings-Blake was introduced to the 29-year-old rapper by a mutual friend, according to a CNN report. According to her website, Rawlings-Blake now provides problem-solving, consulting and advocacy services under the company SRB & Associates.

She spoke to CNN Thursday in the wake of Shahani's death, and on Friday she talked with Gayle King on CBS Mornings.

"If her name and her face sound familiar," said King, "it's because she's used to dealing with tragedy and controversy, she's the former mayor of Baltimore and she's now serving as Travis Scott's spokesperson."

Rawlings-Blake, who served as mayor from February 2010 to December 2016, said she's there because she knows the anxiety of massive crowds. Authorities said at least 50,000 people were present at the concert.

"As you saw, there was so much chaos, so much breakdown in the communication, and that's why it was important for me to work to try to help them out," she said. "Nine people have lost their lives and nine families are grieving and Gail, I'm a mom. My daughter's gone to one of these big concerts and I can tell you I spent three sleepless night every day watching my phone, watching her location because when you have crowds of 50,000 people, anything can happen."

Rawlings-Blake said the blame doesn't lie on Scott for the deaths, but that he wants to be a part of the solution.

"This notion that Travis had the ability to stop the concert is ludicrous," she said. "They have a 59-page operations plan, and it clearly says the only two people that have the authority to stop the concert were the executive producer and the concert producer. He was not responsible for this, but he wants to be responsible for the solution, and I'm here to make sure that we can connect the dots."

Scott and the organizers of the festival should have stopped the event when they realized members of the crowd were in danger, Houston's fire chief Samuel Peña said in an interview Tuesday.

"The artist, if he notices something that's going on, he can certainly pause that performance, turn on the lights and say, 'Hey, we're not going to continue until this thing is resolved,' Peña said. "That's one way to do it, yes."

Rawlings-Blake said Scott wasn't aware that the concert turned into a tragedy. Scott attended an after-party at Dave and Busters where Rawlings-Blake said he and his team were trying to "regroup."

"They were trying to figure out what was going on. It was hours and hours after the concert when they actually found out the tragedy, how the tragedy unfolded," she said. "And he has not stopped grieving for these families. He knows that he is who he is because of his fans. His love for his fans is so deep."

Taking over Baltimore in 2010 after Sheila Dixon left office in scandal, Rawlings-Blake drew praise for a smooth transition, her handling of Snowmageddon and fire and police pension crises.

In her last few months as mayor, Rawlings-Blake faced criticism for her response to the riots after Freddie Gray's death and a skyrocketing murder rate.

Rawlings-Blake said Scott has reached out to the families of each victim and that she has reached out to Shahani's family.


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