GLENSIDE, Pa. — Chrisette Michele held hands with her band members during a final prayer, posed for a pre-show Instagram photo and stepped out into what remains of a career battered by a 5-minute-18-second association with Donald Trump.
The Keswick Theatre in this suburb of Philadelphia sits in a region that is the mecca of the neo-soul music that earned Michele a dozen years of fame, a record deal at 23 and a career-validating Grammy. The last time she sang at the Keswick, her manager and husband, Doug Ellison, reminisced, nearly all 1,500 seats were filled.
But a few days after Christmas, the die-hard fans clotted near the stage to hear Michele sing were surrounded by a phalanx of empty seats.
It has been two years since Michele made what many predicted would be a career-ending decision — singing at one of President Trump’s inaugural balls. She accepted the gig against the advice of her fans, former collaborators and even her husband. She believed the performance would be an opportunity to “be a bridge” in a fractured nation.