The Grammy- and Tony-winning singer decided to pull out of the concert after reading a Daily Beast article on Friday (Jan. 13), titled, “Jennifer Holliday Will Perform at Trump’s Inauguration, Which Is Heartbreaking to Gay Fans.”
“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,” she wrote in an exclusive letter provided to TheWrap.
Billboard confirmed the authenticity of the letter with Holliday’s representative Bill Carpenter, who said his client penned the note in the middle of the night.
Holliday is best known for her roles on Broadway and recordings in the early 1980s, specifically for playing Effie Melody White in the original cast of Dreamgirls. Most recently, she returned to Broadway to play Shug Avery in the revival of The Color Purple, which wrapped on Sunday with Hillary and Bill Clinton in the audience.
Her performance at the upcoming inauguration was announced on Friday along with relatively high-profile performers Toby Keith and 3 Doors Down. Following the announcement, Holliday said she woke up to an onslaught of hatred directed her way, including death threats, suggestions of suicide, warnings of boycott and racial slurs on social media.
“I was like, nobody knows that I’m alive and then I decide to sing a song and I wake up and they all hate me,” she told Billboard.
In her open letter, Holliday thanks the LGBT community for its support of her career over the years. “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,” she writes.
Read the full letter below.
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Please allow me this opportunity to speak to you directly and to explain why I originally made my decision to perform at the inauguration which was what I had thought would be my simply keeping in my tradition of being a “bi-partisan songbird” having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.
With LOVE & Appreciation,
“The Original DreamGirl”