Earlier this week, Broadway legend Jennifer Holliday agreed to perform at a welcome concert for Donald Trump’s inauguration. And then, in droves, her fans begged her not to. Now, she says, she won’t sing after all.
As of Friday night, in an interview with the New York Times, Holliday — who originated the role of Effie in Broadway’s “Dreamgirls” — had said she would perform at the concert, “for the people.”
“I don’t have a dog in this fight,” she said. “I’m just a singer, and it’s a welcome concert for the people on the Mall.” Holliday had previously performed for Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and both Presidents Bush. Holliday told the Times she felt that singing on the Mall was, in part, a tribute to Marian Anderson, who “paved the way for me to sing as a black American,”
Her fans didn’t see it that way. They quickly took to Twitter to express their dismay. “#JenniferHolliday singing at Trump’s inauguration is a betrayal of our diverse arts community. Reconsider — it’s not worth selling out!” wrote @katerone.
In her letter, Holliday said that it was after reading an article in the Daily Beast that she changed her mind. In the essay, titled “Jennifer Holliday Will Perform at Trump’s Inauguration, Which is Heartbreaking to Gay Fans,” Kevin Fallon wrote: “There’s no separating the booking of any of these stars from the fact that performing at the inauguration — any inauguration, sure, but especially this one — is a political act. In the case of Holliday, it is an act that seems to defy everything her most passionate supporters stand for, and even issues she herself has supported throughout her career.”
Through Twitter last night, a fan sent Holliday an article detailing the LGBTQ community’s concerns about the incoming Trump administration, and she thanked him for sharing it. This morning, she released her letter to the Wrap. The full text of Holliday’s letter to her fans is below.
TO MY BELOVED LGBT COMMUNITY:Please allow me this opportunity to speak to you directly and to explain why I originally made my decision to perform at the inauguration which was what I had thought would be my simply keeping in my tradition of being a “bipartisan songbird” having sung for Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush.I was asked to sing a song for what was presented to me as the “Welcome Concert For The People” — in my mind I was reflecting on the past times of being asked to sing for presidents and I only focused on the phrase “For The People” … I thought, For America!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 … 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.In light of the information pointed out to me via the Daily Beast article on yesterday, my only choice must now be to stand with the LGBT Community and to state unequivocally that I WILL NOT PERFORM FOR THE WELCOME CONCERT OR FOR ANY OF THE INAUGURATION FESTIVITIES!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.Please know that I HEAR YOU and I feel your pain. 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.Thank you for communicating with me, I had no idea that I still meant so much to all of you.Thank you for your posted comments both the good supportive ones as well as the ugly hurtful ones.With LOVE & Appreciation,JENNIFER HOLLIDAY
“The Original DreamGirl”