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'I am willing to be a bridge': Chrisette Michele joins performers willing to weather Trump inaugural storm

Chrisette Michele will perform an R&B set as part of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities, joining Toby Keith, Sam Moore and others at the Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration on Thursday night.

"My heart is broken for our country, for the hopes of our children, for the fights of those who came before us. I cry at the thought that Black History, American History might be in vain,” Michele, 34, said in a statement Thursday. “This country has had great moments. God has shined His light upon us. Today, I hope that Great Moments begin in peaceful & progressive conversation. I am willing to be a bridge.”

The 2009 Grammy winner took the gig a week ago, but, according to a New York Daily News source, her camp has been keeping it “a big secret” to avoid the onslaught of criticism that has been directed toward inauguration-friendly entertainers. The paper was the first to report the news on Wednesday.

“I don't mind ‘These Stones,’ if they allow me to be a voice for the voiceless. I am here,” she continued. “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."

The “If I Have My Way” singer hashtagged herself #nopoliticalgenius.

Among the other entertainers weathering the storm are 16-year-old “America’s Got Talent” runner-up Jackie Evancho, who’ll sing the national anthem at the swearing-in and told “Good Morning America” on Wednesday that she has “a lot of positivity from my family and that’s really what matters.”

The Radio City Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be on hand, minus a few members. The choir has a half-dozen inauguration appearances under its belt, having performed at the swearing-in ceremonies for presidents Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush and sung in the inauguration parades for President Reagan and both Bushes.

"As an American, I am honored to perform for President-elect Donald Trump," said “Soul Man” singer Sam Moore, who has also been booked for the Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration.

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"I was a participant in the civil rights movement and have seen many positive changes and advancement in my 81 years of living in this wonderful country, but I know we must all join hands and work together with our new president,” Moore’s statement continued.

Others on tap for the celebration, which will take place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, include appearances by Keith, Jon Voight, Big & Rich, the Piano Guys, Lee Greenwood, DJ Ravidrums, 3 Doors Down, and the Frontmen of Country (Tim Rushlow, Lonestar’s Richie McDonald and Restless Heart’s Larry Stewart).

Former Little Texas singer Rushlow will also perform with his new group, Tim Rushlow & His Big Band, at Liberty and Freedom: The Inaugural Balls on Friday. He wasn’t telling USA Today his song choice for the Trumps’ first dance at the largest of three inaugural balls, but hinted at a “retro, throwback” tune.

Tony Orlando, the “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” singer who played at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City in the 1980s and made an appearance on “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2015, will perform at the Salute to the Armed Forces and Services Ball on Friday night, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

“I am an entertainer. I’m not a politician. I have worked for Republicans and Democrats, and I honestly can’t distinguish, in my audience, Republicans from Democrats, and I’m not going to try to start now,” Orlando told the paper.

“My agenda is to unite, and that's really where I want it to be,” Rushlow told the Associated Press this week. “… I think this is the time to come together, and that's what I'm here for.”

“I'm thick-skinned,” he said, noting that “haters gonna hate.”

“Dreamgirls” stage star Jennifer Holliday was among those who couldn’t take the backlash, however.

"My lapse of judgment was that I didn't realize people weren't really over the election," Holliday told "The View" this week by way of explaining her decision to back out of Thursday night's party. 

Holliday said she agreed to the gig “because I’m an artist and I love America.” She said she thought everyone “had agreed to a cease-fire for a day” when it came to politics — then found herself the target of death threats, racial slurs and suggestions that she kill herself.

"I was like, wow, we've come to this," she said, her voice cracking with emotion. Holliday has performed for four previous presidents: Ronald Reagan, Bush 41, Bill Clinton and Bush 43.

Attending the inauguration — but presumably not singing — will be Caitlyn Jenner, People said Thursday. She’ll be a guest of the American Unity Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to helping LGBT Americans “by making the conservative case that freedom truly means freedom for everyone.”

“Caitlyn has been a Republican all her life,” a source supposedly close to Jenner told People, “and she sees this as an opportunity to represent and defend the LGBTQ community within the party.” 

cdz@latimes.com

Twitter: @theCDZ

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UPDATES:

9:20 a.m. Jan. 19: This article was updated with a statement from Chrisette Michele.

This article was originally published at 3:15 p.m. Jan. 18.

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