Chrisette Michele is still responding to the criticism she encountered for performing at President Donald Trump’s Inaugural Ball.
The “No Political Genius” songstress, who was bashed by the likes of Spike Lee and Questlove for the performance, appeared on “The Breakfast Club” Wednesday (Jan. 25) to address the matter with an in-depth interview.
“Part of me is brokenhearted by what’s going on,” she explained. “Part of my self-esteem, my ego is hurting because I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if anybody is listening. A part of me as a person, not a singer at the ball, but as a person, wanted to say, ‘My black matters. This is black.’ A part of me wanted to say, ‘This is what what we sing like. This how we stand.’ A part of me felt like, ‘Have you ever seen me before? Are y’all talking about me in this campaign?’ So, yeah, I think I made an impact.”
Michele says that while she didn’t make a political statement with a speech at the event, she did so with her performance.
“I said, ‘It’s not over until it’s good,’” she explained. “I said, ‘Keep hope alive.’ I said, ‘Put your hands up in the air and wave them from side to side.’ I said, ‘Look at my skirt.’ I wore a skirt, created by a white woman with a black man’s art on it.”
That skirt, by Alice + Olivia, was based on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “In Italian” print.
“My Basquiat skirt showed us being hung,” she added. “[It] showed us being beaten by police, showed the brutality, and nobody listened.”
Michele would not disclose the amount she was paid to perform, but did note that it was less than the reported $250,000. She also revealed that she was unable to meet with or speak to President Trump on this occasion.
“I was at the ball he spoke at,” she said. “But he didn’t get there until we were leaving.”
See more highlights from Michele’s conversation with “The Breakfast Club” below.
ON CRITICISM: “I took a lot of heat because I want to unify America. I didn’t go there to see if I could shake… What’s a handshake gonna do? I went there to begin a conversation with America. I went there to show them what we look like.”
ON SPIKE LEE: “He’s one of my…peers. We’re both people who create. We’re both artists who bring things to media and say things. The reason why something that comes from his mouth would be disappointing, more than hurtful, is because ehe’s supposed to try to teach me how to create this art and get it out…Teach me, please. I’d much rather have a conversation than a tweet.”
ON QUESTLOVE: “I would have paid him to perform. That’s where it’s at. If Questlove, who I’ve worked with on his music, doesn’t know that I didn’t go there for money, then we don’t know each other. None of us know each other.”
ON NOT BEING AT WOMEN’S MARCH: “They don’t invite D-list celebrities. I didn’t get no phone call. I was in the city during the march. I was there, but I didn’t get asked to speak on the stage. I think what I did was a powerful thing. I think what Alicia Keys did with it was a powerful thing. I think what Madonna did was a powerful thing. If we all think about doing powerful things on the platform we have instead of doing powerful things on Instagram, we’ll be a lot better.”
ON HOPES FOR CHANGE: “I am now today…receiving phone calls from people who might be able to make a change. We have four years ahead of us…allegedly…Hopefully, there can be some change in the next 10 days, two weeks…I’m hoping.”
ON BEING INSULTED: “People been calling us bitches and hoes in music for a very long time. We’ve been called names. I’m not stirred by the names people call me.”
ON HER TELEVISION SHOW: “I’m creating a TV show. It’s called ‘No Political Genius.’ ‘No Political Genius’ is a show where I go to the white girl in North Dakota with the same situation as the black girl in Far Rockaway. Then, I bring Congress people and mayors from their areas to talk to those situations…I just want to be the bridge.”