Why Did Garth Brooks Turn Down Donald Trump’s Inauguration?
Garth Brooks says he's supporting unity in choosing to perform for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. It's a theme he relied on four years ago, as well.
Country music fans are hardly unified in their opinions on Brooks' decision to accept an invitation from Dr. Jill Biden, the incoming First Lady. Will the backlash affect him, and why did he turn down an invitation to play Donald Trump's inauguration four years ago?
Those are two of five burning questions Taste of Country's Billy Dukes answers during this video that explains Brooks' perspective, offers some history on his relationships with presidents and dares to predict the long-lasting effects on his career and legacy.
In short, Brooks says he made a non-partisan decision to play the swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday (Jan. 20). It's not about red or blue, or black and white, he remarked during a Zoom press conference on Monday — it's about coming together at a pivotal point in American history. Throughout the 30-minute conversation with media, the country megastar did his best to avoid being political and to stay in his lane as a musician.
"I'm so tired of being divided," Brooks said with an expression of pure exhaustion on his face.
Watch: 5 Burning Questions About Garth Brooks' Inauguration Performance:
This will be Brooks' second inauguration performance, as he played three songs ("American Pie" by Don McLean, "Shout" by the Isley Brothers and his own "We Shall Be Free") for Barack Obama in 2009. That year, the country singer was actually a part of the We Are the One concert held two days earlier at the Lincoln Memorial, not the Jan. 20, 2009 inauguration. Trisha Yearwood was also once part of inaugural events, performing during the Presidential Gala for Bill Clinton on Jan 19, 1997.
During Monday's press conference, Brooks revealed that he has performed for every president in the last few decades, except for Ronald Reagan. That means he's played for President Donald Trump, too, although that didn't come on inauguration day. Four years ago, the country hitmaker was asked to play, but chose to let karma decide. Ultimately he did not play the inauguration.
Long story short: He was working that weekend. Brooks put tickets on sale for three shows in Cincinnati (Jan. 27-28) on Nov. 18, 2016. They sold out in two hours, so an additional weekend was added for Jan. 21-22. This was enough to put Brooks out of commission for the incoming president, something he explained in some detail during an Inside Studio G airing on Facebook at the time.
“We left it up to karma. If Cincinnati goes two weekends instead of one, then of course we are out," Brooks said at the time (per Billboard). Trump's inauguration took place on Jan. 20, 2017.
"I’ll tell you with this whole presidential thing: We got one going out. Pray for him and his family. And for the president going in, pray for him and his family to guide this nation. Let’s stay together," he said in 2017, remaining bi-partisan then, as well. "Love, unity — that's what it's all about."
"We can't thank the Obamas enough for serving this country ... And may God hold Trump's hand in the decisions that he makes in this country's name as well," he said.
Wednesday's inauguration comes two weeks after riots at the U.S. Capitol and amid threats of more of the same in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. There is also the coronavirus pandemic to think of, which is why Brooks says he will be performing alone. He didn't disclose which songs he'll play, but said he won't choose "We Shall Be Free," since he played it in 2008.
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