Chrisette Michele is standing by her decision to perform at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration.
The 34-year-old, best known for her 2009 song “Epiphany,” posted an open letter, titled We Can’t Be Present If We’re Silent, across her social media accounts (along with the hashtag #NoPoliticalGenius) on Thursday morning, defending the move with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.
“My heart is broken for our country, for the hopes of our children, for the fights of those who came before us,” the letter reads. “I cry at the thought that Black History, American History might be in vain. This country has had great moments. God has shined His light upon us.”
It continues: “Today, I hope that Great Moments begin in peaceful & progressive conversation. I am willing to be a bridge. I don’t mind ‘These Stones’, if they allow me to be a voice for the voiceless. I am here. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about what matters.’ I am here, representing you, because this is what matters.”
Following a Wednesday report from New York Daily News, representatives for Michele confirmed to ESSENCE the R&B singer had joined the lineup as part of Friday’s inauguration ceremony. Other artists scheduled to sing at inaugural events include Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down, Lee Greenwood, and Motown singer Sam Moore.
According to NYDN, Michele closed the deal several weeks ago, though her team wanted to keep the news a secret in fear of backlash similar to that which prompted Grammy and Tony-winning Broadway icon Jennifer Holliday to pull out of the inauguration ceremony on Jan. 14.