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Jennifer Holliday Describes Vicious Backlash To Now-Canceled Plans For Inaugural Performance

Deadline logo Deadline 1/15/2017 Greg Evans
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An angry and shaken Jennifer Holliday said she was called “Aunt Jemima” and worse by some African Americans in the online response to her now-canceled plans to perform for Donald Trump’s pre-inaugural celebration.

“They were calling me c---, calling me house n***er, calling me Aunt Jemima, calling me all kinds of names and asking me to kill myself,” the Grammy and Tony-winning singer told MSNBC’s Joy Reid on this morning’s AM Joy. “And that was from the black community.”

Yesterday, Holliday reversed her decision to perform at Trump’s “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” concert January 19 at the Lincoln Memorial, citing an online backlash from the LGBT community. In an open letter, she apologized to her gay fans for the “lapse of judgement.”

Asked why the LGBT response swayed her to cancel – as opposed to gender and race issues – Holliday said, “All the tweets that I read from the African American community were directed directly at me. The tweets from the gay community took the issues and did not call me names. Also they have been a faithful community since Dreamgirls to me, and fed me even when the church people didn’t feed me.”

Earlier in the brief interview, Holliday told Reid that the initial invitation to perform “did not give me pause, and I know people think that’s strange, but it used to be where an artist can be an artist, and we sang.”

She said Trump’s team did not “trick” her into accepting the invitation. “I wanted to sing for America and sing for the people.”

In yesterday’s open letter, Holliday, who won a 1982 Tony Award for her performance as Effie White in Dreamgirls and recently returned to Broadway in this season’s revival of The Color Purple, pledged to stand by her LGBT fans.

“I sincerely apologize for my lapse of judgement,” Holliday wrote, “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.” (Read her full open letter here).

Trump has had some difficulty recruiting top-name entertainment to his inaugural celebrations, with such stars as Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, KISS, Elton John, Garth Brooks and Ice T reportedly passing. The pre-inaugural concert has lined up Jackie Evancho, 3 Doors Down and country stars Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood. Actor Jon Voight and Trump himself will make appearances.

The situation even drew some barbs from Alec Baldwin on last night’s Saturday Night Live. As Trump, Baldwin promised such big name acts at his concert as Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lawrence – “courtesy of Madame Tussauds.”

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