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X Factor contestant says she’ll sing at Trump’s inauguration—under one condition

Photo: Luca Teuchmann/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s inauguration is looking to be a dull affair, especially when compared with the star-studded events that celebrated President Barack Obama’s election in 2008 and 2012. The president-elect hasn’t landed any big names to kick off the Republican revelry, with everyone from Elton John to Céline Dion—maybe, among other things, they’re trying to avoid being struck by lightning? Whatever the case, it’s looked like the only music that will be hard at the inauguration will be a sad trombone, especially after Vince Neil dropped out. He was replaced by last month by America’s Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho, who might soon be joined by another talent-show competitor.

Variety reports that British singer Rebecca Ferguson (not to be confused with the actress from Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation) has been approached to perform at the inauguration. The X Factor U.K. season 7 runner-up says she’ll consider it—but only if she can perform “Strange Fruit.” Ferguson, who’s signed to Columbia Records, explained her position via Twitlonger:

I’ve been asked and this is my answer. If you allow me to sing ’strange fruit’ [sic] 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.


Abel Meeropol’s poem, which has been recorded by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, is full of pastoral imagery that belies the country’s violent history of lynching black men. Trump’s team hasn’t responded yet to Ferguson’s terms, presumably because they’re Googling the lyrics first.

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