And she’s telling Us … she’s not going. Jennifer Holliday announced her decision to drop out of Donald Trump’s inauguration concert on Saturday, January 14, apologizing to the LGBT community in an open letter she posted on The Wrap.
In the letter, which she addressed “to my beloved LGBT community,” the 56-year-old music legend humbly apologized for what she called her “lapse of judgment.” (On Friday, January 13, Holliday was among the handful of performers announced on the lineup for Trump’s inauguration event.)
“Please allow me this opportunity to speak to you directly and to explain why I originally made my decision to perform at the inauguration which was what I had thought would be my simply keeping in my tradition of being a ‘bi-partisan songbird’ having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,” she wrote. “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.”
According to the Tony- and Grammy-winning artist, it was the headline of a Daily Beast article that showed her the error of her ways. (The article in question was published Friday and bears the headline “Jennifer Holliday Will Perform at Trump’s Inauguration, Which Is Heartbreaking to Gay Fans.”)
“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,” she continued. “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.”
Holliday is best known for originating the role of Effie White in Dreamgirls on Broadway in 1981, and her stirring rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” has been lauded by Broadway fans and music aficionados for decades.
On Friday, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced that the Thursday, January 19, Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration concert would include acts including country singer Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down, The Piano Guys and The Frontmen of Country. Actor Jon Voight (Angelina Jolie’s father) will make an appearance, and the next day America’s Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho is slated to sing the national anthem.
Keith defended his decision to perform at the inauguration event in a statement to Entertainment Weekly: “I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military. I performed at events for previous presidents [George W.] Bush and [Barack] Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO.”
According to TMZ, legendary singer Paul Anka also backed out of his performance (he was originally set to sing his hit "My Way"), though he insists the decision is not political.