Jackie Evancho is the only solo act currently confirmed to be performing Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration next week. And while her appearance has drawn criticism, she says her decision to accept the President-elect’s invitation is “not political.”
“I just kind of thought that this is for my country,” the 16-year-old told the New York Times. “So if people are going to hate on me it’s for the wrong reason.”
While many musicians have publicly declined invitations to perform at the event, Jackie’s position has raised eyebrows because of her 18-year-old transgender sister Juliet Evancho and her lawsuit against their local school district in Pennsylvania over her right to use women’s bathrooms.
It’s a complicated time for the sisters. Jackie has been subject to comments online over her decision to perform at the inauguration, in spite of Trump’s vice president-elect Mike Pence’s history as governor of Indiana, where he signed into law a religious freedom act that was largely viewed as anti-LGBTQ.
But in their interview, the family remained persistent that neither issue was political and Jackie said she can “100 percent” support her sister’s fight for rights and still sing at the inauguration.
“For me it’s not political,” Jackie she said of the bathroom lawsuit. “It’s just accepting people for who they are.”
Their father, Mike Evancho, echoed that sentiment.
“We’re fighting this discrimination at the high school,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who’s going into the office, we would still fight that fight.”
Although Juliet is steadfast in supporting her sister, she won’t be attending won’t be traveling with the family to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration. She said she has “prior engagements” but will be there “in spirit.”
Read the full interview here.