Rebecca Ferguson has declined Donald Trump’s invitation to perform at his inauguration after she was told she wouldn’t be allowed to sing Strange Fruit.
Rebecca Ferguson, who found fame on The X Factor U.K. in 2010, was asked to sing at the President-elect’s ceremony on 20 January (17), and said she would do so if she could sing Billie Holiday’s 1939 tune about racism in the 1930s.
Now, Rebecca has released a statement explaining that she has turned down the offer to perform at the event, after a disagreement over her song choice.
“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,” her statement began. “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.”
While Rebecca didn’t outright state that Trump’s team had banned her from performing the tune, she hinted as much in her lengthy pledge.
In the statement, Rebecca continued to say she believes her 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,” she added.
“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.”
Rebecca also revealed 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 concluded by admitting she would love to sing the track in America at some point, signing off: “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.”
It remains to be seen which musical guests Trump will have performing at his inauguration, after Celine Dion, and Elton John have reportedly turned down the invitation to do so, and more recently Moby.
Jackie Evancho, former America’s Got Talent contestant, is the only name so far confirmed for the event.