Gospel singer Kim Burrell apologizes for viral speech about 'ugly' people, boasting about having 'no vaccine'
Gospel singer Kim Burrell — who has collaborated with the likes of Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, Frank Ocean, Harry Connick Jr., and Mariah Carey — has offered a new apology after a clip of one of her speeches caused an uproar on social media.
Burrell addressed the incident days after a video of her speech at the Kingdom City Church went viral, with many saying her attitude exemplified "why people don't go to church" and that "there was no Jesus" in her words.
"I'm sorry. I mean it. I mean that. Not from the letter — from my heart. I released a letter two days ago. It did not convey right at all, and I must tell you this: It was from an attorney that asked me to do it because the latter part... it was offensive," Burrell said Thursday in a video on Instagram, referring to a since-deleted statement she initially released to address the controversy.
Many Twitter users responded negatively to the statement, with one offering a "PR edit" of it to better serve Burrell's followers.
Burrell continued in her Instagram video, "It was offensive. It shouldn't have been. It was not my intent for it to be… My friends called me and said, 'No, there are still people who are hurt from the part of them that they love about you. Come back.' That's not the only reason I came back, because I said they still didn't feel my heart. I came back because I do love you. This ain't about dates, this ain't about keeping my career — this is about keeping the love real."
She finished, "I'm really truly sorry. I did not want to hurt you, I don't want to hurt you, I don't plan on hurting you, and I pray that you will heal from this. I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart. I love you. Wait and see. I do."
In her original speech (above), Burrell laughed as she suggested interviewing people to make sure they're not "broke" or "living in a trailer home" before letting them into your life. She also drew criticism for seemingly advocating against COVID-19 vaccines and suggesting that people are "ugly."
"It's not about status or material things — it's just about choices. Life is different now. And you know, we are at church. Thank God we're here, those of us who walk in our faith without a mask and no vaccine. And so, we honor the Lord. God is good," she said, before suggesting that attendees book her for more events using government money "left over from your PPP loan: Prayer, praise, and power."
Speaking about attendees' appearances, Burrell added: "Who likes to be told you're just ugly? No one likes to be told that, especially when they have realized it. Most don't get offended until they know the bad thing about themselves and then somebody else recognizes it... I haven't chosen anyone to be ugly yet. God is good. God is great. You all look great. Most of you have on hats covering most of that anyway. Here's to you."
In addition to her successful career as a gospel singer, Burrell has collaborated with mainstream pop acts on high-profile projects. She sang with Connick Jr. in 2003 on the holiday tune "I Pray on Christmas," joined Carey on the Randy Jackson's Music Club: Volume One album cut "I Understand" in 2008, performed alongside Ocean on his 2016 song "Godspeed," and also contributed vocals to Jay-Z's 2017 song "4:44." Williams worked with her on the soundtrack to the 2016 Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures.
Burrell also courted backlash in late 2016 when a clip of her resurfaced showing her making remarks that many considered to be homophobic. Her Texas Southern University radio show Bridging the Gap was subsequently canceled, as was a planned January 2017 appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
"I actually didn't know her… She made a statement. She was doing a Facebook Live, and she said some very not-nice things about homosexuals, so I didn't feel that was good of me to have her on the show to give her a platform after she was saying things about me," DeGeneres said on her talk show at the time, before speaking to Pharrell about the gospel icon.
"There's no room for any kind of prejudice in 2017, and moving on. There's no room," Pharrell added, while still noting that Burrell is a "fantastic singer."
Watch Burrell's apology in the video above.
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