Rebecca Ferguson (the singer, not the best part of Mission Impossible — Rogue Nation) is the latest in a loooong line of performers asked to sing at Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities. But, unlike everyone excepting Jackie Evancho, plus some members of the Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Ferguson hasn’t refused the invite outright. Instead, the British singer says she’ll accept, if she can perform the famous protest song “Strange Fruit,” that is. Originally a poem by Abel Meeropol, the song describes an American history of lynchings and was first recorded by Billie Holiday, with Nina Simone doing a notable rendition. Ferguson explained her reasoning on TwitLonger, describing the song as one that “speaks to all the disregarded and down trodden black people in the United States.” She wrote:
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. Best Rebecca X
Probably best not to spend too much time waiting by the phone, though.
Update, January 10: In a new statement, Ferguson says she has now declined Trump’s offer due to “circumstances beyond my control” and “many grey areas about the offer for me to perform that I’m unable to share right now.” Ferguson says she still hopes to sing “Strange Fruit” for Americans someday, but until then, wishes us “nothing but love.”