by Cassy Fiano | January 10, 2017 12:07 pm
It’s no secret that Donald Trump’s inauguration will be significantly less star-studded than previous presidential inauguration ceremonies. Trump has notoriously been unable to attract many celebrities, something that has allegedly infuriated the President-elect. And now, he’s losing one of the few celebrities he did manage to get.
British singer Rebecca Ferguson had agreed to perform at Trump’s inauguration. But she wanted to sing “Strange Fruit”, a song written in the 1930s in protest of lynching and racism, famously performed by Billie Holiday. 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.” But when the Trump team chose another song for her to sing, Ferguson pulled out of the inauguration performance.
Ferguson released a statement about the decision. “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,” she said. “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. 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.”
“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,” she concluded. “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.”
Ferguson came in second on “The X Factor,” a British talent show, in 2010.
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