Updated, 12:50 pm Jennifer Holliday will appear on MSNBC’s AM Joy tomorrow to discuss the decision to cancel her inaugural performance. The program, hosted by Joy Reid, airs at 10 am ET.
Previous Jennifer Holliday is telling President-elect Donald Trump she’s not going – to the pre-inaugural concert. Pledging to stand by the LGBT community, the Tony-winning Dreamgirls star canceled plans to perform at the January 19 Trump celebration.
“I sincerely apologize for my lapse of judgement,” Holliday has written in an open letter to the LGBT community, “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.”
Though she initially planned to add Trump to the long list of presidents for whom she’s performed – including Ronald Reagan, both Bushes and Bill Clinton – an online backlash prompted Holliday to reconsider. The singer, whose star-making performance of Dreamgirls‘ “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” has become an anthem for outsiders, counts a large LGBT following among her fan base.
Earlier today, The New York Times ran a brief story pointing out that Holliday was among the few non-country performers slated for Trump’s pre-inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Following performances by smaller groups such as fire department pipes and drums players, the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” concert will switch to such big name attractions as Jackie Evancho, 3 Doors Down and country stars Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood. Actor Jon Voight and Trump himself will make appearances.
The Times quoted Holliday as saying, “I’m singing on the mall for the people. I don’t have a dog in this fight – I’m just a singer, and it’s a welcome concert for the people on the mall.”
But after some reflection, Holliday has decided she did indeed have a fighting dog. In the open letter, initially provided to The Wrap, she conceded that she had not not considered “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.”
Here’s Holliday’s open letter in full (with her CAPS):
“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Please allow me this opportunity to speak to you directly and to explain why I originally made my decision to perform at the inauguration which was what I had thought would be my simply keeping in my tradition of being a ‘bi-partisan songbird’ having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 judgement, 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.”
In the Daily Beast article referenced by Holliday, columnist Kevin Fallon wrote that “we won’t mince words. For the gay community that has bolstered Holliday’s, in her own words, embattled and difficult career and cheered on her recent successes, the news feels like a betrayal. It is heartbreaking.”