Looks like Donald Trump’s inauguration celebration will go on without British singer Rebecca Ferguson.
The former “X Factor” contestant had received an invitation to perform at the inauguration and would only accept if she was allowed to sing “Strange Fruit,” the song condemning racism and lynchings at the time it was originally recorded by the late Billie Holiday in 1939.
“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, indicating her request was not granted. “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.”
The singer, who came in second in “X Factor” in 2010, chose to make a statement with a song at the inauguration of a U.S. president, paying homage to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“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 said in the statement.
Ironically, the 30 year-old singer said her “aim was not to cause contention” and that “pride and ego is what we need to conquer in this world,” as she elaborated on why she felt the need to set a condition to accept the invitation.
“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,” she said, while requesting to use her own talent to draw attention to racism.
“We are here to love, not judge, or bring people down,” Ferguson said.
“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 genuinely wish you all well and hope I will still get to sing ‘Strange Fruit’ for you one day.”
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