WASHINGTON (AP) — Singer Chrisette Michele had to turn off her cell phone and stay off the Internet after she accepted an invitation to sing at one of President Donald Trump’s inauguration balls.
Despite having performed for then-President Barack Obama in the White House, her decision to perform for his successor led people to call her a coon and a sellout; Spike Lee announced that he would no longer have one of her songs, “Black Girl Magic,” featured on an upcoming television show.
But Michele doesn’t regret her decision at all.
“We have the opportunity to be in the same room as people who (don’t) seem to understand who we are, what we stand for and what we’re about? And we’re declining?” she told The Associated Press. “… Somebody’s got to stand up right now, even if it is uncomfortable, so no, there was no hesitation there.”
Michele found out on Instagram that Lee would not use her song in his television show. She responded Monday by releasing a spoken word track “No Political Genius” in which she called herself “the black song Spike Lee won’t sing.” She said she is now working on a television show of the same name.
Despite the complaints lodged against her, Michele insisted she’s the same person she was before her paid appearance at the Freedom Ball.
“Nobody was paying attention to the artist they were supporting over the last 10 years,” she said. “They forgot my voice, who I was and what I stood for. They were just upset about where I was standing.”
Michele did not get to meet Trump over the weekend, but has already been inside the White House. She performed for the Obamas and foreign dignitaries during an official White House state dinner in August.
In the VIP area after her performance Friday, Michele said an elderly white lady came to ask her about her skirt, which displayed artwork from artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. She was then able to tell her about Basquiat, and their conversation led to talks about racism and symbolism. That made the being there worth it, she said.
“Maybe I can start this conversation, even if she’s the first person I talk to,” she said. “Maybe I can make a difference.”