Let’s hear it for Toby Keith and Jackie Evancho, two singers who were asked by the president-elect to perform during this week’s inaugural activities — and gladly said yes.
Donald Trump’s election in November has so addled the liberal-dominated entertainment industry that the Trump team has had a difficult time attracting A-listers to perform. Keith, the Oklahoma-born country music star who lives in Norman, is arguably the biggest name on the marquee.
President Obama had a long list of stars at his inaugural events, ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Beyonce to Kelly Clarkson. They’re all reliable progressives, of course, but they no doubt also were drawn to the chance to be part of something historic — the inauguration of the first black U.S. president.
Trump’s inauguration offers no such gravitas. Instead, the president-elect is a lightning rod as a result of his words and deeds. Among those who have agreed to perform are the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Radio City Rockettes, the rock group 3 Doors Down and Lee Greenwood.
Performers such as Andrea Bocelli have said no thanks. Producer and composer David Foster, who collaborates with Evancho, declined an invitation. Jennifer Holliday, who won a Tony on Broadway for her role in “Dreamgirls,” initially agreed to sing at an event Thursday, but then bailed. Many athletes and coaches have already said they would have to think twice if they were invited to the White House for traditional visits with the president following professional or college championships.
Keith and Evancho are taking the better approach. They are putting politics second, not first.
“I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military,” Keith said last week in a statement provided to The Oklahoman. “I performed at events for previous presidents Bush and Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USA.”
Some of Keith’s biggest hits have had patriotic themes, such as “American Soldier” and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.” But he says he’s a registered independent, not a Republican as some have assumed. “I’m not a political guy. I just support the troops,” he said in a 2015 interview with The Oklahoman’s Brandi McDonnell.
Evancho, meantime, is bringing some common sense to the table as a 16-year-old. She rose to fame in 2010 by finishing second on “America’s Got Talent” as a 10-year-old singing classical music. She is scheduled to sing the national anthem at the inaugural.
She told “CBS This Morning” that she hopes to “just kind of make everyone forget about rivals and politics for a second.”
Evancho’s appearance is sure to distress liberals all the more because her sister, 18-year-old Juliet, is transgender, having been born a male. Some have pitched Evancho’s performance as an endorsement of a Trump worldview that doesn’t jibe with theirs or with the pro-LGBT leanings of his predecessor in the White House.
To that, she had this response in an interview with The New York Times: “I just kind of thought that this was for my country. So if people are going to hate on me it’s for the wrong reason.” From the mouth of babes …
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