Broadway star Jennifer Holliday pulls out of Trump concert
Broadway star Jennifer Holliday has pulled out of a concert celebrating Donald Trump's inauguration following protests from her gay and black fans.
Holliday, best known for her Tony-winning role in Broadway's Dreamgirls, said she had not considered that singing at Thursday's concert at Washington's Lincoln Memorial would be judged a statement of support for the President-elect.
She decided to withdraw after reading reports about how her participation was being viewed and apologised for a lack of judgment.
"It just really hit home for me," she said. "The gay community has been a big part of my life and my career. I feel there really wouldn't be a Jennifer Holliday or a Dreamgirls in the 21st Century without them. I needed to at least hear them out and learn why it would be such a great disappointment for them."
Several prominent entertainers have declined to perform at Mr Trump's inaugural festivities, though country star Toby Keith, the rock band 3 Doors Down and actor Jon Voight are still in Thursday's line-up. Jackie Evancho will sing the national anthem at the inauguration on Friday.
Holliday said it was painful to read racial epithets, insults and people wishing that she were dead "just for singing a song". She had been scheduled to sing the Stephen Foster song Hard Times Come Again No More.
"I had no idea it would be interpreted as a political statement," she said. "That's my fault for not paying attention to what the climate is like in the country right now."
President Barack Obama's inaugurations attracted top names like Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and others, in sharp contrast to those Mr Trump has gathered. But he has insisted that's how he wants it, saying the swearing-in festivities should be about the people, not the A-list.
Star-studded inaugural events for Mr Obama at the Lincoln Memorial in 2009, and for Bill Clinton in 1993, were televised by HBO, but the network's chairman said on Saturday that will not be the case this year.
Richard Plepler, the network's chairman and CEO, stressed that politics had nothing to do with HBO's decision.
He said HBO had been contacted shortly after Mr Obama's election to discuss its interest in the inaugural show, and top talent had already committed to the project. By contrast, he said Mr Trump's transition team contacted him two weeks ago and did not say who would be performing.
"I didn't know what the show would be," Mr Plepler said. "In order to do one of these things you must have the time and planning and coordination for the kind of production that would make it a good show."
Mr Trump's team has made the concert available to air at no cost but no network has publicly come forward to say it would. CNN said on Saturday it would cover the event, but it was not clear how much will be shown on air.