NEW YORK (AFP) - Facing fan backlash, Broadway star Jennifer Holliday has backed out of performing at Donald Trump's inauguration concert, the singer said in an open letter posted on Saturday (Jan 14).
Trump's inaugural committee had announced on Friday that Holliday, a Tony award winner who is black, would perform in a concert at the Lincoln Memorial on the eve of the tycoon's inauguration, joining a lineup featuring country stars Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood.
But disgruntled fans - including many from the LGBT community - took to Twitter to denounce Holliday's slated participation.
"#JenniferHolliday singing at Trump's inauguration is a betrayal of our diverse arts community," wrote one Twitter user. "Reconsider - it's not worth selling out!"
The inauguration would have had a rare African American performer in Holliday, who has sung for Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and both Bush presidents.
She said that in accepting the invitation to sing for Trump she was simply "keeping in my tradition of being a 'bipartisan songbird.'"
But in her letter published by TheWrap entertainment news site, Holliday said she decided to pull out of the concert after reading any essay published by the Daily Beast titled "Jennifer Holliday will perform at Trump's inauguration, which is heartbreaking to gay fans."
"My only choice must now be to stand with the LGBT community and to state unequivocally that I WILL NOT PERFORM FOR THE WELCOME CONCERT OR FOR ANY OF THE INAUGURATION FESTIVITIES!" Holliday wrote.
"I sincerely apologise for my lapse of judgment, for being uneducated on the issues that affect every American at this crucial time in history and for causing such dismay and heartbreak to my fans."
Holliday said she was "deeply indebted" to the LGBT community, noting that its members were "mostly responsible for birthing my career."
Holliday won a Tony Award in 1982 for the original Broadway musical Dreamgirls, later turned into a movie with Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson.
The Trump team has struggled to recruit prominent artists for the looming inauguration, with the American arts and entertainment community broadly backing his opponent Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The inauguration lineup pales in comparison to the star power amassed by Barack Obama.
A similar inauguration-eve concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 2009 drew Beyonce, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Stevie Wonder, as well as country superstar Garth Brooks.
The full text of Holliday's letter in The Wrap
TO MY BELOVED LGBT COMMUNITY:
Please allow me this opportunity to speak to you directly and to explain why I originally made my decision to perform at the inauguration which was what I had thought would be my simply keeping in my tradition of being a “bi-partisan songbird” having sung for Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush.
I was asked to sing a song for what was presented to me as the “Welcome Concert For The People”– in my mind I was reflecting on the past times of being asked to sing for presidents and I only focused on the phrase “For The People”… I thought, For America!
I was honestly just thinking that I wanted my voice to be a healing and unifying force for hope through music to help our deeply polarized country… Regretfully, I did not take into consideration that my performing for the concert would actually instead be taken as a political act against my own personal beliefs and be mistaken for support of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
In light of the information pointed out to me via the Daily Beast article on yesterday, my only choice must now be to stand with the LGBT Community and to state unequivocally that I WILL NOT PERFORM FOR THE WELCOME CONCERT OR FOR ANY OF THE INAUGURATION FESTIVITIES!
I sincerely apologize for my lapse of judgement, for being uneducated on the issues that affect every American at this crucial time in history and for causing such dismay and heartbreak to my fans.
Please know that I HEAR YOU and I feel your pain. The LGBT Community was mostly responsible for birthing my career and I am deeply indebted to you… You have loved me faithfully and unconditionally and for so many years you provided me with work even though my star had long since faded.
Thank you for communicating with me, I had no idea that I still meant so much to all of you.
Thank you for your posted comments both the good supportive ones as well as the ugly hurtful ones.
With LOVE & Appreciation,
“The Original DreamGirl”