Lee Greenwood, the singer of the patriotic song “God Bless the USA,” is one of the artists who is set to perform at the inauguration for President-elect Donald Trump, a statement confirmed last week. Greenwood, who will be joined by a fellow country artist in Toby Keith and rock band 3 Doors Down, will be playing at the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” at the Lincoln Memorial on January 19.
Initially, it was announced that Greenwood would also be joined by Broadway singer Jennifer Holliday. However, due to pressure on social media, Holliday later backed out and issued an apology. It was recently announced that the Bruce Springsteen B Street Band, a Bruce Springsteen cover band, will be backing out as well. Earlier, singer Andrea Bocelli also canceled an expected performance, according to Entertainment Weekly.
???? Lee Greenwood playing “Make America Great Again Welcome Celebration” & performing at dinner for Vice President Mike Pence
Smart man???????? pic.twitter.com/RORK91BhKp
— ✨Freedom✨ (@ReignsFreedom) January 16, 2017
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Greenwood will not only be performing at the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration,” but he will also sing at an event for Vice President-elect Mike Pence. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Greenwood was asked about the response he had received since it was reported that he would be performing at the inauguration. Greenwood said he had received an outpouring of positive feedback online but also spoke of those who were less happy.
“There’s a few naysayers who are disappointed the election didn’t go their way. But, without being political, and that’s what we’re trying to push aside, is this is not political, this is basically about the change in power.”
Others who have come under fire for deciding to perform at inauguration events have offered similar sentiments, indicating that it’s non-political and that it is for their country.
Toby Keith has defended his decision to perform at the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration,” telling Entertainment Weekly that he doesn’t apologize for performing and showing support for America and the troops. In the face of backlash, Jackie Evancho of America’s Got Talent also told the New York Times that her performance is about America.
“I just kind of thought that this is for my country,” the 16-year-old Evancho told the New York Times. “So if people are going to hate on me it’s for the wrong reason.”
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) January 14, 2017
Greenwood also shared his thoughts on those who have turned down opportunities to appear at the Inauguration. Asked specifically about Holliday, Greenwood said that he thought her decision was “a mistake.”
“You’re going to sing for the President, my gosh. I didn’t work the campaign, she didn’t work the campaign. This is basically an invitation to go to Washington, D.C., and be a part of this celebration. I’m sorry she made that choice. It doesn’t influence what I do or, I think, many of the other performers who will be there.”
In another interview with Variety, Greenwood said he thinks that this is something that Holliday will “regret not doing in the future,” further explaining that the chance to perform at a presidential inauguration is not something that comes along every day. He also said that he “feel(s) sorry” for artists who have spurned the opportunity to be part of the inaugural festivities.
In addition to artists who have changed their minds about appearing at the inauguration, artists such as Elton John, Moby, KISS, and others appear to have declined invites from the get-go, according to the New York Post. It was also reported that country superstar Garth Brooks had backed out of a chance to perform, but he has now explained in a Facebook live video that a scheduling conflict was the reason for his decision.
In the video, Brooks, sporting a newly-grown beard, also delivered a positive message. Brooks spoke of “love and unity,” quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and said he prays for both the outgoing and incoming presidents and their families.
Greenwood, 74, has performed at past inaugural events for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. According to the Boot, he has performed in front of President Jimmy Carter and late Presidents Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon as well.
Greenwood will be playing his signature tune “God Bless the USA,” according to reports.
[Featured Image by Rick Diamond/Getty Images]