Rebecca Ferguson is the latest singer to pull out of Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The British singer had been asked to perform in Washington during the 45th president’s swearing-in ceremony on January 20th. However, the 30-year-old had insisted on performing Strange Fruit, a protest song about lynching black people. The track was written in the 1930’s to protest racism and was famously performed by the legendary jazz musician, Billie Holiday.
According to the Daily Mail, Ferguson’s song was vetoed, and she was not satisfied with her new song choice. In an official statement Tuesday, the mother-of-two revealed that she would not be performing at the inauguration concert because there too many “grey areas” that came with the offer.
“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…I wasn’t comfortable with the song choice on my behalf, and although I’m 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 felt it was the only song that would not compromise my artistic integrity…I wanted to create a moment of pause for people to reflect.”
Ferguson, a Liverpool native came in a close second on The X Factor back in 2010. When the 30-year-old was asked if she would take to the stage during the inauguration ceremony, she had announced it on social media with her one condition to sing a controversial song that had been blacklisted in the United States. But Ferguson argued that the song was of historical importance because it connected with minorities in America.
The X Factor runner-up revealed her aim of singing the song was not to instigate anything but to prove that love was the only thing that could overwhelm all the hatred in the world. However, many observers saw the song as a bold choice that was never going to see the light of day. They believed that the song at a Republican ceremony was never going to be endorsed as the wounds of a polarized America were still fresh.
Inauguration Ceremony update— Rebecca Ferguson (@RebeccaFMusic) January 10, 2017
Strange Fruit was originally composed by Abel Meeropol in 1937. The song has been sampled ever since with Kanye West sampling Nina Simone’s 1965 version in 2013. The poet had encapsulated the brutal killings of Africa Americans in the Deep South. The opening lyrics to the song talked about black bodies swinging from Southern trees.
“Southern trees bear a strange fruit, blood on the leaves and blood at the root, black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, strange fruit from the poplar tree.”
An introspective Ferguson revealed in her official statement that she visited the Vatican, saying that it left her with a strong insight that the main thing that differentiated people was not their creed, color or culture, but the inability to accept people for who they were. She said life was meant to be all about love, rather than to bring people down. She took out time to pay homage to female artists like Eartha Kitt, Billie Holliday, and Nina Simone. The singer wished America loads of love still hoping that she could sing the seemingly controversial song one day.
“I’ve a lot of love for the United States. It’s a constant source of inspiration to me, if not the whole world. I genuinely wish you all well and hope I will get to sing Strange Fruit for you one day.”
A source speaking to the BBC revealed that another UK singer, Charlotte Church, turned down the opportunity to perform at the inauguration ceremony next week. The acts currently billed to perform so far are members of The Rockettes, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Talladega Marching Tornadoes, as well as 2010 America’s Got Talent runner-up Jackie Evancho.
Rebecca Ferguson recently released her fourth studio album; Superwoman. Her debut album, Heaven, in 2011 rocketed to the top of the UK charts surpassing the effort of the show’s winner, Matt Cardle. She suffered a minor setback in 2012 when she took her entire management team to court for overworking her to the point where she collapsed.
[Featured Image by Jonathan Short/AP Images]