In 2016, Chrisette Michele ignored the public outcry from the black community and most of U.S. by performing at the inauguration of President Donald Trump, which she believed would be an opportunity to “be a bridge” in a fractured nation.
Now, over two years later, the $75,000 gig (many thought it was $250k), which would have been a prestigious honor for any other President, continues to haunt her career.
“People didn’t feel hopeful from that moment,” Michele said of the performance alongside Travis Greene. “They didn’t feel represented in that moment. They felt misrepresented. They felt further misunderstood, and they felt the person they were depending on to speak on their behalf just betrayed them.”
The latest evidence of a career slump comes from a recent performance at the Keswick Theatre in Philadelphia in December (2018), a venue she pretty much sold out all 1,500 seats in the past. According to the Washington Post, not many concertgoers showed up for Chrisette this time around, except for some die-hard fans.
In the past two years, since taking the 5-minute performance for Trump, Chrisette said she contemplated suicide, battled with alcohol and prescription drugs, had a miscarriage, and was dropped from her record label Caroline/Capitol Records, and radio stations stopped playing her songs. Additionally, legendary film director Spike Lee dropped her song, “Black Girl Magic,” from his Netflix production.
“While I felt like people took so much away from me in those two years, I’m more grateful for finally having time to look at the last 12 years,” said Michele, referring to when she released her debut ‘I Am’ album. “And I think that is the bright side. . . . I want people to know that it’s okay to expect more from me.”
Questlove, The Roots drummer and producer who had once collaborated with Michele, offered to pay her to drop the gig. In a statement defending her decision, Michele wrote, “I am here representing you because this is what matters.”
In April 2018, Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter released her last album, Out Of Control, herald by the singles “Strong Black Woman,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “No Chorus.” To say the project bombed would be an understatement.
Although the 36-year-old question whether she should continue singing, her appetite for creating recently led to two new songs (“Don’t Pull” and “A Day In Your Life”).
“I just remember knowing that I can change the feeling of the room when I sang,” she told The Post. “From the time I was a kid, I knew that notes did things to people.”
Chrisette signed with Def Jam Recordings at age 23, and she was seen as the latest in a line of neo-soul singer-songwriters that included Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott, said Tammy Kernodle, a musicology professor at Miami University in Ohio, who, until that inaugural event, was a Chrisette Michele fan.
These days Chrisette can be found searching for peace and purpose in various new ventures: She opened a Yoga studio. She took up African dance. She started offering voice instruction and launched a mentorship program aimed at helping women find personal and professional success.
“I wanted some clarity about what I’m supposed to be doing right here because clearly it ain’t supposed to be singing,” she said.
Should Chrisette continue to suffer for her decision or should se get her second chance?