Jennifer Holliday Decides Not to Sing for Trump After Opposition
Jennifer Holliday, the Tony-award winning singer who on Friday said she planned to sing at an inauguration-related welcome concert next week, on Saturday changed her mind, citing opposition to her appearance from the gay and lesbian community.
Ms. Holliday, in a letter she provided to The Wrap, an entertainment news website, said she would no longer take part in any events affiliated with the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as president. Her decision to withdraw, she said, was influenced by an article in The Daily Beast about how her planned appearance was heartbreaking to her gay fans. She also retweeted an op-ed piece in the Boston Globe describing Mr. Trump’s cabinet nominees as “a who’s who of homophobia.”
“I sincerely apologize 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,” she wrote.
“Please know that I HEAR YOU and I feel your pain,” she added. “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.”
Her spokesman, William Carpenter, confirmed the withdrawal. “After she saw how hurt so many people were at the idea of her performing, she decided to pull out and not cause any extra anger or hurt,” he said in an email.
Ms. Holliday won a Tony Award in 1982 for her performance as Effie White in the original production of “Dreamgirls,” and she returned to Broadway this season as a replacement Shug Avery in a revival of “The Color Purple.”
In an interview on Friday, she said that although she had voted for Hillary Clinton for president, she agreed to sing at a welcome concert on the National Mall the day before Mr. Trump’s inauguration because she viewed it as a performance for the people, not the politician. She noted that she had performed at the invitation of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and viewed this invitation in that context.
Nevertheless, her decision was greeted with a firestorm of opposition on social media from fans who argued that Mr. Trump is different from his Republican predecessors and that because of the nature of his rhetoric and his positions, she should not perform.
On Saturday, she said she had found those arguments persuasive. “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,” she wrote. “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.”
Ms. Holliday elaborated on her decision in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, expressing concern about remarks Mr. Trump made on Saturday on Twitter. He referred to Representative John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement, as “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results.”
Ms. Holliday said she had “a personal bond” with Mr. Lewis and had sung not only at his 75th birthday celebration but also at his wife’s funeral.
She questioned whether Mr. Trump was serious when he said Mr. Lewis was “‘all talk and no action?’ He’s already taken the action, the ultimate action, his blood on the bridge.”
“It’s like, ‘Really?’” Ms. Holliday said. “I thought that was just very disrespectful and an insult to every person.”
Mr. Trump has had considerable difficulty attracting celebrities to perform at his inauguration — many have instead expressed opposition to his administration, and some plan to appear at protest events.
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