Mormon Tabernacle Choir member gives reasons why she will sing at Trump inauguration

(KUTV) While one singer with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir made international headlines for quitting the singing group after learning it would sing at Donald Trump’s inauguration, another voice is quietly gaining attention for the reasons she will sing on Jan. 20.

Cristi Ford Brazao, a 7-year member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, recently shared on her Facebook page that she will use music to “bring people together” and will be singing at President-elect Trump’s inauguration.

Jan Chamberlin, posted on Facebook Dec. 30, after Brazao, that she would resign from the volunteer choir in protest over its upcoming performance at Donald Trump’s inauguration. Chamberlain, who had been with the choir for five years, wrote in an open letter to the choir director that she “could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect” if she sang at Trump’s inauguration.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has said participation in the 360-member choir and the inaugural performance is voluntary. The LDS church choir has performed for presidents of both parties at inaugurations and in other settings and does not support a particular party. This will be the sixth time the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has sung at an inauguration. The choir has performed at swearing-in ceremonies for George H. W. Bush in 1989, Richard M. Nixon in 1969, and Lyndon B. Johnson 1965. The choir has also performed in inaugural parades for George W. Bush in 2001, George H. W. Bush in 1989, and Ronald W. Reagan in 1981, according to the choir's website.

When Brazao first learned the choir would be singing she called her family members. The first thing they expressed was support for her and the choir.

“Two of those people are not members of the LDS church and none of us voted for Donald Trump,” Brazao said in a Dec. 24 Facebook video post that has more than 117,000 views and had been shared more than 1,000 times, as of Friday.

She goes on to say this isn’t the first time the choir has sung for audiences that have had opposing views to the church.

In 2016 the Mormon Tabernacle Choir held an international tour in Europe where it performed in eight countries, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France.

Personally, Brazao said her mission for the choir has been about something more.

“My mission as a singer has always been to soften hearts, to bridge gaps, make connections, and also to make friends,” she says.

Singing in the choir isn’t so much about conversion, but more about fellowshipping.

Brazao also mentioned Marian Anderson, a popular African-American classical singer in the 20th century, who sang at two presidential inaugurations at a time when “she couldn’t even walk in the front door of a building where she was performing her own concert because of the color of her skin.”

In 1957, Anderson sang at the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and President John F. Kennedy in 1961.

Anderson was the first African-American to perform with the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1955.

As a Mississippi native, Brazao says she is grateful for Anderson’s choice to sing, because it set an example that she can follow.

Growing up in the deep south, Brazao says she was well-taught of her history and who she was.

“What was instilled in me was confidence and also bravery,” she says.

She also noted the courage of the Buffalo Soldiers and Tuskegee Airmen who were also examples she thought about as part of her decision to sing.

“What I’m trying to do as a person is be like Jesus Christ,” she said. “(He) associated with prostitutes, liars and thieves. And while he did not endorse what they were doing he still didn’t withhold his mission from them. My mission is one of love, peace and hope, and I want to share that with others – even in the face of ridicule.”

At a time when the United States appears to be so divided, Brazao says she believes music can heal and bring people together.

“It can heal hearts and I want to contribute to that healing and also to bringing people together.”

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