Rebecca Ferguson Decides Not To Perform At Donald Trump’s Inauguration After Feud Over Her Singing An Anti-Lynching Protest Song.
British singer Rebecca Ferguson has pulled out of Donald Trump‘s inauguration after a row about her performing a famous protest song about lynching.
The Liverpool-born star wanted to perform Strange Fruit – a track which was written in the 1930s to protest at racism and particularly the lynching of black people and was most famously performed by the late Billie Holiday.
The haunting song contains the lyrics: ‘Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.’
It appears the President-elect or people on his transition team have decided it did not set the right tone for his inauguration.
In an official statement today the 30-year-old singer said: ‘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.
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‘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. ‘
She continued: ‘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.
‘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.’
She also said: ‘Pride and ego is what we need to conquer in this world. I was blessed to be invited to the Vatican last month and one thing I was left reflecting on, was all the things that separate humans from one another. It is often pride and the inability to accept people for exactly who they are. We are here to love, not judge, or bring people down.
‘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.
‘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.’
At the start of the year, Rebecca announced on her Twitter page she had been approached by the new President to sing at the ceremony in Washington, scheduled for 20 January.
However, the singer noted she would only go through with the appearance if she was allowed to sing Strange Fruit, which was written in response to the publication of an infamous photograph of two black men, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, being lynched in Indiana in 1930.
Originally constructed as a poem by Abel Meeropol in 1937, the song discusses the brutal lynchings of African Americans – which were rife at the time it was composed.
Ferguson, who came second on Britain’s The X Factor back in 2010, confirmed she had been asked by Trump to perform – after worldwide superstars Beyonce and Aretha Franklin took to the stage at the ceremonies for Barack Obama.
Addressing the matter on the social media site, she wrote: ‘I’ve been asked and this is my answer.’
‘If you allow me to sing Strange Fruit a song that has huge historical importance, a song that was blacklisted in the United States for being too controversial.
‘A song that speaks to all the disregarded and down trodden black people in the United States.
‘A song that is a reminder of how love is the only thing that will conquer all the hatred in this world, then I will graciously accept your invitation and see you in Washington. Best Rebecca X’
Welsh singer Charlotte Church – who is not a big name in the United States – today tweeted to Trump: ‘Your staff have asked me to sing at your inauguration, a simple Internet search would show I think you’re a tyrant. Bye’
Representatives of Rebecca declined to comment to MailOnline.
The unexpected request would no doubt have increased Ferguson’s fan base in the States.
Her debut record Heaven, released in 2011, rocketed to number 3 on the UK album chart.
She suffered a minor hiccup in 2012 however, when she sacked her management and took them to court after accusing them of overworking her.
The mother-of-two launched a scathing Twitter attack on her handlers, claiming she was subjected to such punishing work conditions that she collapsed.
However, after another two top 10 albums, Rebecca has most recently seen the release of her fourth studio record Superwoman, which she is currently following up with a successful UK tour.
While she embarked on a US tour in 2013, the singer has found far less success with her music in the US.
But according to The Wrap, the President-Elect is struggling to find acts to perform at his inauguration, in light of his controversial campaign.
The site reports that Trump is now willing to pay the act who agrees to perform, in order to draw in a top musician. A fee has never been made to a musical performer before at a Presidential inauguration.
By Rebecca Davison and Chris Summers For Mailonline