Rebecca Ferguson (no, the other one) has been asked to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration, and the singer says she would do it — on one condition.
The former “X Factor U.K.” contestant says she’ll only perform at the Jan. 20 ceremony if she’s allowed to sing Billie Holiday’s famous protest song “Strange Fruit.”
In a statement on Twitter, the British soul singer wrote that she’d “graciously” accept the Trump inauguration committee’s invitation if it would grant her permission to perform the song “that is a reminder of how love is the only thing that will conquer all the hatred in this world.”
The song’s lyrics, originally published as a poem by Abel Meeropol, protest racism in America and the lynching of African-Americans in the 1930s: “Southern trees bear strange fruit/ Blood on the leaves and blood at the root/ Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze.”
In her statement, Ferguson described the song as “a song that speaks to all the disregarded and down trodden black people in the United States.”
With less than three 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 last week, 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 and operatic singer Andrea Bocelli.
Read Ferguson’s full statement below:
I’ve been asked and this is my answer. If you allow me to sing “strange fruit” a song that has huge historical importance, a song that was blacklisted in the United States for being too controversial. A song that speaks to all the disregarded and down trodden black people in the United States. A song that is a reminder of how love is the only thing that will conquer all the hatred in this world, then I will graciously accept your invitation and see you in Washington. Best Rebecca X