British singer Rebecca Ferguson has said she will accept Donald Trump’s invitation to perform at his inauguration - but only if she can sing the civil rights anthem ‘Strange Fruit’ made famous by Billie Holiday.
The X Factor star from Liverpool took to Twitter to make the provocative statement ahead of the Washington ceremony later this month.
“I’ve been asked and this is my answer. If you allow me to sing ‘Strange Fruit’, a song that has huge historical importance, a song that was blacklisted in the United States for being too controversial. A song that speaks to all the disregarded and down trodden black people in the United States. A song that is a reminder of how love is the only thing that will conquer all the hatred in this world, then I will graciously accept your invitation and see you in Washington.”
Strange Fruit, originally a poem by Abel Meeropol, was first recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939 and has been covered many times since. It takes its title from the lynchings of black people in the American Deep South, and is hailed as one of America’s greatest protest songs.
Trump, who was accused of pandering to racists during the election campaign by demonising Muslims, has faced criticism for appointing Steve Bannon, boss of right-wing news website Breitbart, as his chief strategist in the White House. Bannon has been labelled a “white nationalist” accused of holding anti-Semitic views, a charge which he has denied.
The President-Elect’s team has struggled to find performers for his inauguration.
The only performers confirmed to appear so far are the Radio City Rockettes, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and singer Jackie Evancho, of America’s Got Talent.
Randall Thacker, a Mormon who said his “heart sank” when he heard that the church’s beloved choir will perform at the inauguration, has launched a petition to urge the group not to go to Washington.
The Rockettes will appear, though dancer Phoebe Pearl took to Instagram to say she was “embarrassed and disappointed” to appear at the event.
Ferguson was X Factor runner-up on the in 2010 and has released her fourth album, which went Top 10, last year.