Lee Greenwood will be performing at the inauguration of Donald Trump this week. Does this mean that he is a Republican and supported Trump for president? Or does he consider this to be a non-partisan performance celebrating the peaceful transition of power?
Greenwood is indeed a Republican, but Donald Trump was not his first choice for president. Instead, Greenwood supported Marco Rubio during the Republican presidential primaries, singing “God Bless the USA” at a Rubio campaign rally in February 2016 and enthusiastically introducing Rubio as “the Republican party’s nominee.”
Later that month, the Rubio campaign used Greenwood’s song in a campaign ad.
But Marco Rubio ultimately dropped out of the race, and Greenwood did not perform at the 2016 Republican National Convention, nor did he make any appearances at any Trump rallies. This is in contrast to 2012, when Greenwood performed both at the Republican National Convention and at Mitt Romney rallies.
Greenwood also performed “God Bless the USA” at a John McCain campaign rally in October 2008, and at a George W. Bush rally in 2004. As passionate as Greenwood was about electing the last few Republican presidents, he did not have anything to say about Donald Trump during the 2016 election.
This will not be the first inauguration performance for Lee Greenwood; he previously sang at the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. He did not, however, perform at the inauguration of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.
“This is a time to overcome challenges in our country and band together,” Greenwood said in a statement this week. “My wife Kim and I are looking forward to the inauguration ceremonies.”
Greenwood’s song, “God Bless the U.S.A.,” is one of the most well-known patriotic songs ever written, and it is especially popular among Republican presidential candidates. The song has been utilized in campaign ads for over 30 years, going back to a Ronald Reagan commercial in 1984.
And although Greenwood did not appear at any Donald Trump rallies, his song did; Trump often took the stage at his events with “God Bless the USA” playing, even during the time that Greenwood was actively supporting Trump’s opponent, Marco Rubio.
Many of the singers who will perform at the inauguration have said that they consider doing so to be non-partisan, as it’s merely a celebration of the peaceful transition of power. Joining Lee Greenwood at the inauguration concert will be Toby Keith, another popular singer who traditionally supports Republican candidates but who was oddly silent about Donald Trump during the 2016 election. After being criticized for his decision to perform at the inauguration concert, Keith refused to back down.
“I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military,” Keith told Entertainment Weekly. “I performed at events for previous presidents [George W.] Bush and [Barack] Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO.”
Jennifer Holliday initially signed on to perform at the inauguration concert as well, but she backed out after facing backlash from the LGBT community. She said that she originally accepted the invitation without realizing it would come across as support for Donald Trump.
“Please know that I HEAR YOU and I feel your pain. The LGBT Community was mostly responsible for birthing my career and I am deeply indebted to you,” Holliday told The Wrap. “You have loved me faithfully and unconditionally and for so many years you provided me with work even though my star had long since faded.”
The inauguration concert featuring Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood will take place on Thursday, January 19th. President-elect Donald Trump himself will speak at this event.