Date: 20 January 2017 09:28
Apparently, it hasn't been easy for Trump's Presidential Inaugural Committee to book talent for the inauguration, forcing them to find lesser-known performers. While many A-list singers have been asked, they've all flat out turned it down. There were rumors circulating that Elton John would be performing after some of his biggest hits were used at Trump rallies, however, John told The Guardian this was certainly not true, saying "I don't really want my music to be involved in anything to do with an American election campaign. I'm British … Why not ask Ted f*cking Nugent? Or one of those f*cking country stars? They'll do it for you." Gotta love his brutal honesty! Elton has also spoken out about the fact that he didn't give permission for his music to be used on the campaign trail.
Other big names who reportedly declined their invitation to perform at the inauguration, according to New York Daily News, were Garth Brooks, Kiss, Celine Dion, Ice T, and Andrea Bocelli. Motley Crue was even uninvited to the event, after the band's frontman Vince Neil was hesitant to accept the invitation until the winner of the presidential election was announced. The legendary rockstar told TMZ, "It turns out, when the Republicans won, we were uninvited." It seems it was the Democratic party who had wanted Motley Crue to play, but that information was never presented to the band. "I assumed it doesn't matter who won, it's still a big party. But I guess it's not, I guess there's more politics involved." Trump might have told his team to ditch these guys a few months ago, but it's likely he'd be singing a different tune this week!
In a pathetic attempt to not only land A-list performers for the inauguration but also celebrities who are known supporters of Hillary Clinton, Trump's team has reportedly resorted to bribery. Two talent agents anonymously informed The Wrap they were offered ambassadorships as well as an undisclosed amount of cash if they were able to deliver top performers. One of the insiders was shocked, saying, "Never in a million years have I heard something so crazy. That was the moment I almost dropped the phone." The other insider recalled their conversation with Trump's Presidential Inaugural Committee. "They said they were in the process of 'figuring out posts, ambassadorships and commissions' if that was of any interest." Both of the insiders turned down the offer, however they know several of their colleagues who were offered the same deal.
Trump's team denied the allegations, claiming "First-class entertainers are eager to participate in the inaugural events," which most top artists would have no problem refuting. While offering ambassadorship to big donors and those who show their loyalty to a presidential candidate is nothing new, it's highly unusual to offer anything in exchange for an inauguration performance as it is viewed as such an honor.
Broadway singer and actress Jennifer Holliday, who is best known for her performance in the musical Dreamgirls, just backed out of her performance. She was supposed to perform at the "Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration," which will take place Thursday evening. After announcing her participation just last week, she quickly received backlash from the media and the LGBT community. As a huge supporter of the gay community for years, much of Holliday's fanbase consider themselves LGBT and were disappointed to hear one of their idols was participating in an event that supported someone who has displayed such hate.
According to the singer's open letter to The Wrap, Holliday apologized for her "lapse in judgement" and "for causing such dismay and heartbreak to my fans," claiming that she was "uneducated on the issues that affect every American at this crucial time in history." Hopefully her fans are understanding and will step up to support her career a hundred times harder now that she has made such a large statement for them.
One of the few performers confirmed to be at the inauguration are the Rockettes, and it seems some of the dancers are far from thrilled. Many might not know there are only 13 permanent full-time Rockettes, while eighty other women are seasonal performers. According to an anonymous Rockette who was interviewed by Marie Claire, the full-time dancers were required to perform at the inauguration as per their contracts, understandably causing some of the women anguish. Some even dreaded being in Trump's presence while in their costumes, fearing they would be objectified.
While this insider was pretty open with Marie Claire, others have been avoiding the press in fear that they will lose their jobs. However, after some serious backlash over their participation in the inauguration, it was decided that the dancers, regardless of their contracts, could choose whether or not they'd like to perform. There was nothing in this decision that guaranteed that if a full-time dancer chose to sit this one out, she'd still have her job after the event is over. The insider says so far, three full-time Rockettes have decided not to perform, saying, "It will be interesting to see who doesn't get their job back, but do you really want to work for a company that supports this? I just don't know. It's become a moral issue at this point."
She reports that to her knowledge none of the dancers of color have signed up for the event, a fact that may not make the statement they desired. "It's almost worse to have 18 pretty white girls behind this man who supports so many hate groups. They're going to be branded in history as one of those women. How's it going to look?" A fact that is especially important to the Rockettes, who have been known for their lack of diversity.
Reported by CNN, a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Jan Chamberlin, has quit the group in a form of protest against Trump. After handing in her resignation letter, Tabernacle went to her Facebook page to provide insight into her decision, saying she feared for the reputation of the choir after choosing to perform at Trump's inauguration. Part of her post, which has since been removed, stated, "Looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man." She voiced her struggle with her decision but ultimately she chose to end her association with the choir saying, "I only know I could never 'throw roses to Hitler.' And I certainly could never sing for him."
Many have found the decision for the choir to perform at the inauguration to be against Mormon beliefs, and fact that Raul A. Reyes of CNN predicts will damage their reputation as well as offend members of the Mormon church. The group has performed at several inauguration ceremonies including those of both President Bush senior and junior, but they certainly aren't a staple to the event.
A well-known Bruce Springsteen tribute band, the B-Street Band, is one of the most recent performers to drop out of the inauguration ceremony, claiming it was a decision based on their role model. After receiving some harsh feedback from the public when the band first announced that they'd be performing at the inauguration, they began to feel alone in their choice. Will Forte, who plays several roles for the band including manager, agent, publicist, and keyboardist, told Rolling Stone the band discussed the backlash, comparing it to "standing out in the storm … " as headlines distorted their performance into a political stand with Trump.
It seems a tweet from Garry Tallent, bass player for the E Street Band who regularly backs Springsteen in concert, may have inspired their decision to get out of the rain. Tallent's tweet read, "Please tell me this is more fake news. Or at least a joke." While Springsteen never commented on the issue, he has been more than open on how he feels about Trump being the current president-elect, calling him a moron in an interview with Rolling Stone.
While Forte and the rest of the tribute band members felt this was just another job, it soon became clear it would be much more than that if they chose to perform. "We had to make it known that we didn't want to seem disrespectful, in any way, shape or form, to Bruce and his music and his band … We owe everything to him and our gratitude and respect to the band is imperative above all else. It became clear to us that this wasn't working and we just had to do what we thought was the right thing to do and that was to pull out."
Jackie Evancho was the runner-up on America's Got Talent when she was just 10 years old, and has since earned herself a platinum record that has helped her make somewhat of a name for herself. Now at 16 years old, she is confirmed to sing the national anthem at the inauguration, and she's not backing out despite what critics are saying. It is known publicly that Evancho has a transgender sister, and some see her performance as a betrayal to the LGBT community, since Trump has made his stance against gay rights well-known.
The teenager defended her decision on Good Morning America saying, "I have a lot of positivity from my family and that's really what matters to me. All of my true fans have been there for me and supportive and that's really all I need, so I'm sticking to it." This won't be the first political event Evancho has performed at as she sang at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony for President Obama six years ago, for the Pope Francis during his visit to the United States, and even for Trump after nearly winning the talent contest.
Not backing out of the inauguration has seemingly had a positive effect on Evancho's career, sending her Christmas album to number one on the Billboard Classical Albums chart according to TMZ. What they don't mention, however, is how many of those albums were purchased by Trump himself.
Each inauguration event has always had a local D.C. high school marching band play, however, it seems none of the local schools have applied this year, according to NBC Washington. While some schools who've performed in the past haven't said why they chose to sit this one out, one school claimed to be reworking their band and another has decided to take a break.
Even D.C.'s own Howard University marching band, who performed at Obama's first inaugural parade, also chose not to apply to be part of Trump's big day, claiming it's partly because they don't have enough band members. Considering the university is known as one of the biggest supporters of African-American education, enrolling a high number of black students, it should be no surprise that the school wouldn't want to be associated with the president-elect. Other universities in the area who did not apply were the University of Maryland, Bowie State University, and the University of the District of Columbia. While we likely won't get to see any local bands perform at the inauguration events, we can expect to see marching bands from other areas of the country in the parade at the very least.
Without the confirmation of any major performers, it seems tickets to the inauguration are nearly impossible to get rid of. One scalper from New York told the Daily News he purchased two tickets to the event for $700 with the intention of selling them for twice that amount, however his plan hasn't exactly panned out. He was quoted saying, "Nobody wants to buy them. It looks like I'm stuck with them, I might even have to go." With the demand not nearly at the level that was expected, tickets can be bought for as little as $175, likely forcing scalpers to lose money this time around.
The problem may be due to the fact that tickets to the swearing-in ceremony are actually free, but must be applied for through your local senator's office. When tickets are in high demand, applications for them are in early and this close to the inauguration the only way to attend would be to purchase one off someone. With demand being so low, people are able to still get free or relatively cheap tickets, forcing Trump to stoop as low as to promote tickets on Facebook. Reported by Gothamist, Marina Cockenberg of The Tonight Show spotted the ad and took screenshots for the rest of us to enjoy.
Apparently the reason the 2017 presidential inauguration sounds so lame is because Trump's team has some tricks up their sleeves. TMZ recently reported that an insider claimed they were keeping their list of performers under wraps in order to prevent the backlash that caused Jennifer Holliday and other artists to back out.
While it's nice that TMZ is still keeping their hopes up, New York Magazine had more to say on the report. They pointed out that almost immediately after the story was released, another TMZ report came out, seemingly using the same sources. However, this time their report claimed that Trump cut "rock legends" from the list (if you can even call it that) in order to save money for charity.
See, Trump intends to donate the remaining cash that was donated to cover the inauguration costs to charities. The charity or charities are not mentioned, and neither is this supposed "legendary group". According to TMZ, this unknown band wanted $1 million for their performance, and wouldn't budge on the cost, which forced Trump's committee to move on to other potential rock stars. This might make it sound like dozens of major artists are dying to be apart of the ceremony, however New York Magazine states otherwise. They point out that Trump's longtime relationship with tabloids like TMZ gives him the advantage, saying it's " … not surprising that he would turn to TMZ to spin positive stories about the inauguration." It seems Trump used his connections at the magazine to make him appear more likeable than he actually is.