1. British singer Rebecca Ferguson, who said she was asked to sing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony later this month, has now declined the offer.
4. Earlier this month the X Factor winner said she would only perform at the inauguration ceremony on 20 January if she could sing Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” – a song about racism and lynching in America, which she described as being of “huge historical importance”.
5. But the singer has officially ruled out performing at Trump’s inauguration at all, joining other musicians who have also turned down the offer, including Celine Dion, Ice T, Adam Lambert, and David Foster.
7. Here is Rebecca Ferguson’s statement in full:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”