Updated with video An angry and shaken Jennifer Holliday said she was called “Aunt Jemima” and worse by some African Americans in the online response to her now-canceled plans to perform for Donald Trump’s pre-inaugural celebration. (See the video below.)
“They were calling me coon, calling me house n***er, calling me Aunt Jemima, calling me all kinds of names and asking me to kill myself,” the Grammy and Tony-winning singer told MSNBC’s Joy Reid on this morning’s AM Joy. “And that was from the black community.”
Yesterday, Holliday reversed her decision to perform at Trump’s “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” concert January 19 at the Lincoln Memorial, citing an online backlash from the LGBT community. In an open letter, she apologized to her gay fans for the “lapse of judgment.”
Asked why the LGBT response swayed her to cancel – as opposed to gender and race issues – Holliday said, “All the tweets that I read from the African American community were directed directly at me. The tweets from the gay community took the issues and did not call me names. Also they have been a faithful community since Dreamgirls to me, and fed me even when the church people didn’t feed me.”
Also during the brief interview, when asked about Trump’s behavior toward woman and black people, Holliday told Reid “it did not give me pause, and I know people think that’s strange, but it used to be where an artist can be an artist, and we sang.”
Holliday also said Trump’s team did not “trick” her into accepting the invitation. “I wanted to sing for America and sing for the people.” She said she assumed the Trump team invited her because of her past performances for presidents Ronald Reagan, the Bushes and Bill Clinton. (“I never performed for President Obama,” she explained. “I never was invited.”)
“Maybe they were looking for, maybe, African Americans who have been friendly with Republicans,” Holliday speculated about the Trump invitation.
In yesterday’s open letter, Holliday, who won a 1982 Tony Award for her performance as Effie White in Dreamgirls and recently returned to Broadway in this season’s revival of The Color Purple, pledged to stand by her LGBT fans.
“I sincerely apologize for my lapse of judgement (sic),” Holliday wrote, “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.” (Read her full open letter here).
Trump has had some difficulty recruiting top-name entertainment to his inaugural celebrations, with such stars as Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, KISS, Elton John, Garth Brooks and Ice T reportedly passing. The pre-inaugural concert has lined up Jackie Evancho, 3 Doors Down and country stars Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood. Actor Jon Voight and Trump himself will make appearances.
The situation even drew some barbs from Alec Baldwin on last night’s Saturday Night Live. As Trump, Baldwin promised such big name acts at his concert as Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lawrence – “courtesy of Madame Tussauds.”
Take a look at this morning’s interview: