During the contentious time following the 2016 presidential election, R&B singer Chrisette Michele thought she could “be a bridge” to unite the country by performing at Donald Trump’s inauguration.
She did not succeed in her goal.
Instead, the black musician alienated her fanbase by validating Trump despite his decades-long history of racism.
“She accepted the gig against the advice of her fans, former collaborators and even her husband,” The Washington Post explained. “The 36-year-old lost an album distribution deal and radio stations stopped playing her songs. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and endured a miscarriage that she publicly attributed to stress from death threats and a hydrant of criticism.”
“She still feels the sting of former fans who saw themselves in her music, then accused her of selling her blackness to a presidential candidate who, while on the campaign trail, repeatedly cast black Americans as impoverished people living in hellholes and dependent on food stamps,” The Post explained.
Yet Michele took the gig, for which she was paid $75,000 to perform a single song. Questlove, the drummer for The Roots, offered to pay her to cancel, but she did not accept his offer.
Linette Payne, the singer’s mother, was unprepared for the backlash.
“I had no kind of thought in my head that it would turn into the bomb that it did,” Payne said.
Two years later, Michele reflected on her decision.
“People didn’t feel hopeful from that moment,” Michele said. “They didn’t feel represented in that moment. They felt misrepresented.”
“They felt further misunderstood, and they felt the person they were depending on to speak on their behalf just betrayed them,” she explained.
Watch the performance that sidelined her career: