Artists Who Won’t Perform at Donald Trump’s Inauguration
Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration will take place Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C., but so far, the president-elect has had some difficulty assembling a star-powered lineup for the ceremony. Over the last month or so, more and more musicians have publicly declined to perform — even those who Trump has praised or have a previous relationship with the president-elect!
In preparation for the inauguration, here’s a handy list of everyone who won’t perform for the president-elect.
The classical singer was one of the first names to emerge as an inauguration performer. In early December, PEOPLE reported he would sing a duet with young America’s Got Talent star Jackie Evancho, who has confirmed she will sing the national anthem. But shortly after, Bocelli’s team officially announced he was pulling out of the festivities, reportedly fearing backlash from Trump’s critics and political opponents.
Elton John’s classic hits like “Tiny Dancer” and “Rocket Man” were consistently played at Trump campaign rallies (the songs almost always earned mention in long feature stories), and the president-elect himself was known to watch old John concerts on his plane. A member of Trump’s inaugural committee told the BBC in late November that the artist would perform, but John, who fundraised for Hillary Clinton, quickly shot down the rumor.
According to The Wrap, Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn reportedly promised Trump he could land Céline Dion as an inauguration performer. Dion, however, will not perform on Jan. 20 and Wynn’s reps denied any attempts were made by the businessman to get her on board. “Mr. Wynn was not asked to book specific performers for the inauguration, nor did he ever a make a commitment to find specific performers,” a rep said. Dion is scheduled to play at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Jan. 20.
West may have gotten Trump to sign the president-elect’s TIME magazine cover, but he won’t be in Washington, D.C. to sing for the former reality television star. “No, No. Kanye and Donald are good friends,” Tom Barrack, chairman of Trump’s presidential inaugural committee, told CNN. “Donald is a great admirer of Kanye, as we are all, but he is not performing at the inauguration.”
Brooks, a country superstar, was initially open to playing in Washington. “It’s always about serving. It’s what you do,” Brooks told TMZ on Dec. 1, 2016. However, two weeks later, the “Friends in Low Places” musician rescinded his interest, according to The Wrap.
The British X-Factor alum seemed ready to perform at Trump’s inauguration, but any deal fell apart after she insisted on singing “Strange Fruit.” An intensely political song made famous by Billie Holiday’s 1939 rendition, “Strange Fruit” is a haunting protest against the lynching of African-Americans. “There are many grey areas about the offer for me to perform that I’m unable to share right now, but I will not be singing,” the singer said in a statement in January.
The award-winning music producer was rumored to play a pivotal role in organizing the inauguration and recruiting some of his star collaborators, but Foster quickly denied the story. “I was invited to participate and I politely declined,” Foster told PEOPLE in a statement. “I have no idea where this story came from.”
The award for most emphatic response to playing Trump’s inauguration goes to classical singer Charlotte Church, who responded to Trump himself directly on Twitter. “A simple Internet search would show I think you’re a tyrant,” Church tweeted at the president-elect, topping it off with a handful of poop emoji.
When cornered by TMZ about whether KISS would play Trump’s inauguration, Gene Simmons’ wife Shannon Tweed shouted “no!” and said that the group had “politely declined” the offer. Simmons, for his part, said that the band would be touring Europe at the time anyway.
In addition to the inauguration ceremony itself, Trump’s team also needs to line up DJs and performers for the various inaugural balls to be held in Washington, D.C. Moby wrote on Instagram that he had been approached to DJ one of them. Like Rebecca Ferguson, he made a very specific demand. “I guess I’d DJ at an inaugural ball if as payment #trump released his tax returns,” Moby wrote on Instagram.
The Tony-winning actress wasn’t necessary asked to perform at the inauguration, but she won’t do it anyway. Asked by Vanity Fair about Trump’s problems finding talent for Jan. 20, Menzel called it “karma, baby,” and added Trump should perform himself. “He probably thinks he has a great voice; he thinks he does everything great.”
Marie Osmond denied reports that she would perform at the inauguration on Thursday, tweeting, “I had no intention of performing at this inauguration, no matter who won! I try to stay out of politics. I am an entertainer.” Her message came after Osmond told Yahoo, “We should all come together, and I think an inauguration should be a time to unite, it really should.”
R. Kelly isn’t going to perform for Trump either. “Despite the rumors circulating online, R. Kelly will not be performing at this year’s inauguration ceremony,” the R&B singer wrote on Twitter. “Any reports stating otherwise are simply untrue.”
After reports surfaced that the “My Way” singer would perform at the inauguration, Anka told TMZ that the claims were false. “The president-elect is an old friend of mine for 50 years, there was a dialogue to do it, ‘My Way’ is his favorite song,” Anka told TMZ, “but… I’ve been in a custody battle for two years for my son Ethan, and we have a new schedule now and I’m unable to do it.”
The singer was set to perform at Trump’s inauguration before pulling out following an uproar online. “I was honestly just thinking that I wanted my voice to be a healing and unifying force for hope through music to help our deeply polarized country,” she wrote in an open letter addressed to the “beloved LGBT community” to announce the decision. “Regretfully, I did not take into consideration that my performing for the concert would actually instead be taken as a political act against my own personal beliefs and be mistaken for support of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.”
B-Street Band, a Bruce Springsteen tribute band
Bruce Springsteen won’t play during Trump’s festivities, and neither will this tribute band. “With deepest apologies to our fans and the New Jersey Inaugural Ball committee, the B-Street Band is withdrawing from performing at this year’s inauguration Gala,” the band said in a statement just days before the inauguration. “Our decision is based SOLELY on the respect and gratitude we have for Bruce and the E Street Band. Bruce’s music has been the foundation of our livelihood. The B-Street Band would not exist without the talents of Bruce and our E Street brothers. We are most grateful to these rock legends and look forward to many more years of emulating and performing the Forever Music, of Bruce Springsteen.”
Amy Schumer, Katy Perry, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, America Ferrera…
Rockettes/Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Amidst all these denials and refusals, the Trump inaugural committee has been able to hold on to Evancho, the Radio City Rockettes, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. But despite serving as stalwarts for many past presidential inaugurations, even the latter two are showing signs of disdain. Mormon Tabernacle Choir singer Jan Chamberlin resigned from the group rather than sing for Trump, while the Rockettes have been racked by internal dissent over the performance.
by CHRISTIAN HOLUB