Though Donald Trump’s inauguration is just a few days away, the president-elect’s team is still trying to book singers to perform at the January 20 event. They have had a very difficult time convincing anyone to agree to perform there thus far, as singers believe they will be risking their careers in the liberal entertainment industry if they are linked to Trump in any way.
On Tuesday, Trump’s inauguration suffered yet another setback when singer Rebecca Ferguson pulled out of the event following a disagreement over song choice.
The 30-year-old former X Factor finalist had agreed to perform at the inauguration last week if Trump would let her sing “Strange Fruit,” the controversial Billie Holiday racial protest song against lynching. Banned in the 1930s, the song includes lyrics like “Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.”
In the end, Trump’s team did not feel that this song fit the mood of the president-elect’s inauguration, so they picked something else for Ferguson to sing. It was then that she decided to pull out of the inauguration altogether.
“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,” Ferguson said in a statement. “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,” she continued. “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.”
Here’s the rest of Ferguson’s statement:
“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 are 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 gray 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 have 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.
This undoubtedly leaves Trump’s inauguration team scrambling to find a replacement for Ferguson just days before Trump is set to be sworn in. What do you think about this? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.