Singer Rebecca Ferguson will not perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration after all.
“There are many grey areas about the offer for me to perform that I’m unable to share right now, but I will not be singing,” she wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “However, I genuinely wish your nation nothing but love. I would also like to pay homage to a few of your great female artists: Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, and the brave and remarkable Eartha Kitt and her beautiful untold story.”
Last week, Ferguson was asked to perform at Trump’s inauguration, and the singer says she would do it — on one condition.
The former “X Factor U.K.” contestant said she’d only perform at the Jan. 20 ceremony if she was allowed to sing Billie Holiday’s famous protest song “Strange Fruit.”
In her statement, Ferguson continued to explain why she chose to sing “Strange Fruit.”
“I wasn’t comfortable with the song choice made on my behalf, and although I’m very blessed to have a gift that gives me amazing opportunities, as a mother and an artist, I had to defend my stance,” she wrote. “That is why I made the decision to sing ‘Strange Fruit’ when I was invited.”
With less than two weeks to go, the lineup of performers for Trump’s inauguration ceremony remains thin. The 16-year-old former “America’s Got Talent” singer Jackie Evancho, the Radio City Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are the only performers announced so far.
Both the Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir have received backlash for agreeing to attend the event. Multiple Rockettes have publicly opted to sit out of the performance, and a female member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir quit the group two weeks ago, comparing Trump to Hitler in her resignation letter.
Several high-caliber performers have also publicly rejected requests to take part in the festivities, including Celine Dion, Garth Brooks, Elton John, Moby and operatic singer Andrea Bocelli.
Read Ferguson’s statement below.
Due to circumstances beyond my control concerning the offer to perform at the Inauguration Concert, I was thrown into the middle of a political arena last week.
I wasn’t comfortable with the song choice made on my behalf, and although I’m very blessed to have a gift that gives me amazing opportunities, as a mother and an artist, I had to defend my stance. That is why I made the decision to sing “Strange Fruit” when I was invited.
I requested to sing “Strange Fruit” as I felt it was the only song that would not compromise my artistic integrity and also as somebody who has a lot of love for all people, but has a special empathy as well for African American people and the #blacklivesmatter movement, I wanted to create a moment of pause for people to reflect.
I believe talent is a gift that should be used to heal the wounds of this world and make the world a better place to live in. As music is so powerful, I wanted to try and help educate the people watching of where division and separation can lead to if not corrected. My aim was not to cause contention.
Pride and ego is what we need to conquer in this world. I was blessed to be invited to the Vatican last month and one thing I was left reflecting on, was all the things that separate humans from one another. It is often pride and the inability to accept people for exactly who they are. We are here to love, not judge, or bring people down.
I think love and standing firm in love against anything that separates us from each other, can heal us in these troubled times of unrest.
There are many grey areas about the offer for me to perform that I’m unable to share right now, but I will not be singing. However, I genuinely wish your nation nothing but love. I would also like to pay homage to a few of your great female artists: Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, and the brave and remarkable Eartha Kitt and her beautiful untold story.
I’ve a lot of love for the United States. It’s a constant source of inspiration to myself, if not the whole world. I genuinely wish you all well and hope I will still get to sing “Strange Fruit” for you one day.
Take care and God bless xx