Despite a growing list of celebrities who have refused to appear at Donald Trump’s inauguration, former America’s Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho remains one of the only artists confirmed to perform just a week away from the event.
After being criticized for her decision to perform the national anthem on Jan. 20, the 16-year-old spoke with The New York Times to set the record straight and make it clear that her performance is not based on her political beliefs. “It’s just a personal event, I guess,” she said.
“I just kind of thought that this is for my country,” Evancho reiterated. “So if people are going to hate on me it’s for the wrong reason.”
Evancho has received many hateful messages on social media since accepting the invitation to perform for the president-elect, and her decision has been scrutinized after fans learned her older sister Juliet is transgender and will not attend the inauguration. (President-elect Donald Trump has had fraught relationships with LGBTQ organizations throughout the campaign and Vice President-elect Mike Pence has supported legislative efforts to stunt LGBTQ rights throughout his time as an elected official.) The sisters’ parents are currently in the middle of a lawsuit with Juliet’s school district over her right to use the women’s bathroom.
“For me, it’s not political,” Jackie said of the lawsuit. “It’s just accepting people for who they are.”