In the same defiant tone that marked his post Sept. 11 patriotic ballad Courtesy of The Red, White and Blue, country music star Toby Keith said he will not back down from performing at Donald Trump’s inauguration celebration concert on Thursday.
In a statement to Entertainment Weekly on Saturday, the artist said, “I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military. I performed at events for previous presidents [George W.] Bush and [Barack] Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO.”
As reported by Western Journalism, Keith’s performance as part of the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” was announced Friday. The event will be held at the Lincoln Memorial Thursday at 4 p.m. Eastern and will also include country star Lee Greenwood and the rock group 3 Doors Down.
Keith penned and recorded the patriotic tune Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue promising justice to those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.
The song topped the country music chart and hit No. 25 on the Billboard Top 100 in 2002.
The native Oklahoman was named the Country Music Association’s male vocalist of the year in 2001 and garnered the music video of the year in 2012. He has recorded more than 20 No. 1 country music hits spanning his 20-plus-year career.
Singer and Broadway actress Jennifer Holliday, who was also announced as one of the acts in Trump’s celebration concert, backed out over the weekend.
After an uproar online, Holliday wrote an open letter on Saturday: “I was honestly just thinking that I wanted my voice to be a healing and unifying force for hope through music to help our deeply polarized country.”
She added, “Regretfully, I did not take into consideration that my performing for the concert would actually instead be taken as a political act against my own personal beliefs and be mistaken for support of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.” The artist conveyed that she particularly did not want to offend her fans in the LGBT community.
“I sincerely apologize for my lapse of judgment,” Holliday wrote.
Other artists who reportedly turned down the opportunity to perform at the concert include: Andrea Bocelli, Elton John, Celine Dion, Kanye West, Garth Brooks, and Charlotte Church.
In addition to Keith, Greenwood and 3 Doors Down, those performing at the inaugural concert include Piano Guys, DJ Ravidrums and the Frontmen of Country (featuring Tim Rushlow of Little Texas, Larry Stewart of Restless Heart and Richie McDonald of Lonestar).
Greenwood is sure to perform his hit God Bless the USA, which was a staple at Trump’s campaign rallies.
Actor Jon Voight will make an appearance at the festivities, as will the president-elect and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
“President-elect Trump has made it clear that this inaugural is of, by, and for the American people. The 58th Inaugural will celebrate American history and heritage, while setting the course to a brighter and bolder future for all Americans,” Tom Barrack, the chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said in a press release. “Above all, it will serve as tribute to one of our greatest attributes, the peaceful transition of partisan power.”
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