Springsteen, who publicly backed Hillary Clinton during the election, has called President-elect Donald Trump “a flagrant, toxic narcissist” who “simply has no sense of decency and no sense of responsibility about him.”
The B-Street Band (the name is a nod to Springsteen’s E Street Band) faced a backlash online as their upcoming performance gained attention — and part of the issue seemed to stem around a misunderstanding of the gig itself. Inauguration weekend has numerous galas hosted by state societies unaffiliated with Trump, and the B-Street Band had been booked years ago to perform at Thursday’s Garden State Inaugural Gala.
The band played at the very same New Jersey gala in 2009 and 2013 during President Obama’s inauguration weekend.
“This is a nonpartisan affair,” the band proclaimed in a release, adding that the gala takes place every four years “regardless of which party wins the White House” and the band has performed at events for both parties “dozens of times.”
But Trump’s inauguration has become an unusually fraught gig for artists, even when the performances take place during unofficial events. Forte told Rolling Stone the band was inundated with thousands of emails from “both sides.” Even state lawmakers criticized the group.
While the band initially defended the performance, it eventually became too much.
“It’s like we were in a hurricane,” Forte told NJ.com. “And we realized what was most important to us was being grateful and respectful to Bruce. The last thing we want is for it to seem like we are being disingenuous to him and E Street.”
“We are very disappointed,” Nancy Fatemi, of New Jersey State Society, said in a statement, “but we understand the decision based on all the questions and attention this has brought to the B-Street Band.”
The official inauguration events have drawn even more ire. Just days ago, singer Jennifer Holliday cited the backlash against her planned Trump inauguration concert performance and concern from the LGBT community in explaining the cancellation.
Initially, Holliday wrote she thought of the performance as “simply keeping in my tradition of being a ‘bipartisan songbird’ having sung for Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush.”
She added: “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.”
Reports have emerged that some artists have quietly turned down opportunities to perform. Others, such as Moby and Charlotte Church, said no in very public ways.
The other performers still on tap to play at the concert include country singer Toby Keith and 3 Doors Down.
“I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military,” Keith said in a statement. “I performed at events for previous presidents [George W.] Bush and Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO.”
As for the ceremony itself, 16-year-old classical crossover singer Jackie Evancho will sing the national anthem.