Country artist Toby Keith will not back out of performing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration this month, saying in a statement that he will not “apologize” for performing for the country and its military.
The 55-year-old “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” singer was announced as an inauguration performer on Friday, along with rock band 3 Doors Down and country singer Lee Greenwood.
“I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military,” Keith said in a statement to 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.”
Keith’s statement comes as several artists, including Elton John and Garth Brooks, have publicly rejected invitations to perform at the inauguration.
On Saturday, singer Jennifer Holliday — who had been announced as an inauguration performer on Friday along with Keith — scrapped her plans to sing at the event and apologized to her fans for what she called a “lapse of judgement.”
“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,” Holliday wrote in an open letter provided to The Wrap. “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.”
“I sincerely apologize for my lapse of judgment, for being uneducated on the issues that affect every American at this crucial time in history and for causing such dismay and heartbreak for my fans,” she added.
Keith, 3 Doors Down and several other artists will perform January 19 at the pre-inauguration “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration.” Actor and Trump supporter Jon Voight is expected to attend, and Trump himself will reportedly speak at the event.
Performers for Inauguration Day include the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Radio City Rockettes and teenage classical singer Jackie Evancho. The 16-year-old Evancho is slated to sing the National Anthem at the event.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum