Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli has canceled his performance at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony next month, after fans criticized the move on social media and called for a boycott of his work.
The billionaire businessman has reportedly had a difficult time booking A-list talent for the Jan. 20 event. Performers seem cautious about upsetting their fan base by attending the event, or may oppose the controversial president-elect themselves.
Unlike his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump received few endorsements from popular performers or celebrities while on the campaign trail, and many took a harsh stance against his comments on women and minorities.
Mr. Bocelli, who lost sight at the age of 12, has become a worldwide inspiration who has sold more than 80 million albums internationally.
According to Page Six, an anonymous source said that, “Bocelli said there was no way he’d take the gig … he was ‘getting too much heat’ and he said no.”
Trump reportedly approached Bocelli following his performance at Madison Square Garden in New York City last week, asking him to perform at the event.
“Trump has a long-standing relationship with Bocelli, and wants to ask him in person to perform. The plan is to have acts at the inauguration that are meaningful for Trump, and he’s a huge fan of Bocelli,” a source told Page Six at the time.
Another person said Monday that Trump discouraged Bocelli from accepting the offer, not wanting to subject him to backlash that was already brewing among his fans on Twitter under the hashtag #BoycottBocelli.
“It’s sad people on the left kept him from performing on a historic day,” the person said.
A similar scene played out after Trump suggested that he was great friends with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He eventually said that he asked Mr. Brady not to endorse him, hoping to spare the quarterback from pushback from his liberal fan base in Massachusetts.
Trump and Bocelli have an amicable history. The singer has performed at Trump’s famed Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach before.
Trump’s inauguration is currently scheduled to feature 16-year-old Jackie Evancho, who became popular as a child singer and is slated to perform the national anthem at the proceedings.
The president-elect does still have the backing of rapper Kanye West, who visited Trump Tower last week.
“We’ve been friends for a long time,” Trump told reporters of the visit, saying they had talked about “life. We discussed life.”
It’s unclear if Mr. West, who has said he wants to run for president in 2020, has been invited to participate in the inaugural ceremony.