Following reports of her performance at Donald Trump’s inauguration, R&B singer Chrisette Michele has issued an open letter on her blog titled “We Can’t Be Present If We’re Silent.” While Michele doesn’t directly confirm her performance, she writes that she is “willing to be a bridge” for the country.
“My heart is broken for our country, for the hopes of our children, for the fights of those who came before us,” she writes, before later referencing civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and adding, “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about what matters. I am here, representing you, because this is what matters.”
An initial report from the New York Daily News said that the Grammy-winning singer agreed to sing for the president “so long as she could perform an R&B set.” Her reps did not immediately respond to Billboard‘s requests for comment.
The Roots’ Questlove also weighed in on the performance. “I’d pay Chrisette to NOT perform,” the Tonight Show bandleader tweeted.
Michele’s show at New Jersey’s Starland Ballroom scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19, was canceled “due to a scheduling conflict,” according to the venue’s announcement on Twitter.
Country singer Toby Keith, Motown star Sam Moore and rock group 3 Doors Down are among the acts booked for the inauguration on Friday (Jan. 20). The Bruce Springsteen cover band, The B Street Band, and Broadway star Jennifer Holliday canceled their performances.
Read Michele’s full letter below.
“My heart is broken for our country, for the hopes of our children, for the fights of those who came before us.
I cry at the thought that Black History, American History might be in vain.
This country has had great moments. God has shined His light upon us.
Today, I hope that Great Moments begin in peaceful & progressive conversation. I am willing to be a bridge. I don’t mind “These Stones”, if they allow me to be a voice for the voiceless.
I am here.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about what matters,”.
I am here, representing you, because this is what matters.”
– Chrisette Michele