Entertainers for Donald Trump’s inauguration weekend have become political lightning rods, as many A-listers have refused to participate and some confirmed performers have backed out after fan outcries.
But it appears that R&B singer and self-proclaimed “no political genius” Chrisette Michele won’t be canceling her inauguration gig. Word first broke Wednesday, via the New York Daily News, that the Grammy winner would sing at a concert on the Mall.
On Thursday, Michele posted an open letter entitled “We can’t be present if we’re silent,” in which she quotes Martin Luther King Jr. as she justifies her involvement: “Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about what matters,” she wrote King once said.
“I am willing to be a bridge,” Michele wrote. “I don’t mind ‘These Stones’, if they allow me to be a voice for the voiceless.”
While Michele does not name Trump nor the inauguration, she clearly references the wave of criticism she has faced over the past 24 hours. A representative for the singer did not immediately respond to The Post’s inquiry.
The one-time Def Jam and then Motown artist gained fame when she appeared as a singer on several rap tracks, including Jay-Z’s “Lost One” in 2006. Her will.i.am collaboration “Be OK” won her a Grammy in 2009.
In recent years, she has become a staple of R&B radio with songs like “A Couple of Forevers.” In 2014, she left Motown to start her own label, Rich Hipster.
Other singers set to perform at the inauguration concert on the Mall include country singers Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood and 3 Doors Down.
The inauguration has become a politically fraught gig. Even a Bruce Springsteen cover band canceled its gig at an unofficial, nonpartisan state ball.
Some entertainers have reportedly declined invitations in private; others have publicly rebuked invitations they claimed to receive. Trump’s explanation? “Many of the celebrities that are saying they were not going, they were never invited,” he said Wednesday.
Singer Jennifer Holliday was set to perform, but she canceled days after her involvement became public, citing the concerns expressed by her LGBT fans. The performer has also said she received nasty messages and death threats.
Citing insiders close to the festivities, the Daily News also reported that Michele’s involvement was kept “a big secret” because her camp feared a week of backlash, especially after what happened with Holliday.
And, according to the Daily News, she initially was asked to participate alongside Travis Greene, Jonathan McReynolds and Tye Tribbett, as she did at last year’s BET’ “Celebration of Gospel,” but some of the other singers declined and she agreed to still perform.
Once the Internet masses learned the R&B singer would be involved (Essence also confirmed the Daily News report), Michele’s name became a top Twitter trending topic and a social media outcry ensued. Even Questlove offered to pay her not to perform.
On Monday, Michele posted a link to an article about Steve Harvey, who had just visited with Trump. “After much backlash, there’s one thing Steve’s wife is absolutely not allowing him to do!” Michele wrote on her Facebook page — referring to his not attending the inauguration because his wife was against it.