Country Star John Rich: ‘Threat of Cancellation,’ ‘Step Deeper Than’ Cancel Culture, Silencing Conservative Country Music Artists

John Rich of Big & Rich performs during Country Thunder Music Festival Arizona - Day 3 on April 7, 2018 in Florence, Arizona. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Country Thunder USA)
Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Country Thunder USA

Country music star John Rich of Big & Rich told Breitbart News this weekend that the “very liberal” majority of those in the country music industry have become “emboldened” in recent months to push woke leftist ideology publicly in contravention of the views of the majority of the country music audience. Rich said the mere “threat of cancellation” keeps conservative-leaning artists from speaking out, arguing it is actually a “step deeper than” cancel culture — ultimately creating a divide between the country music industry and the country music audience.

“The industry of country is, I would say, I can’t give you a percentage but let’s just say the majority is very liberal,” Rich said in an appearance on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel. “They’ve been that way for a long time. It’s interesting that the industry that puts out country music doesn’t really align with a lot of the audience. A lot of folks that listen to country, and again I can’t give you a percentage but I can tell you a majority of the audience probably leans conservative. So you’ve got this gulf, kind of, between the two. Over the years, the industry has never really come out really strongly about their liberal edge that they’ve got until recently, maybe in the past six to 12 months. They’ve started coming out more and more and the problem you get is if you’ve got artists that are conservative but their record label, their publicist, their manager, a lot of the radio stations are being overseen by liberals. We used to be able to make music and get it played and still say what we wanted to say and still get our music played but that’s not really the case now.”

“A lot of my fans will ask ‘hey John why don’t we see other country artists who we assume are probably conservative, why don’t we see them speaking out?’ The answer is they still want to get their records played and they still want to be invited to the award show and get the big tours and those kinds of things so is it cancel culture? No, because they’re not even stepping forward to be canceled. So it’s actually a step deeper than cancel–it’s the threat of cancellation that keeps them from saying anything in the first place. So I think the country music audience now, any of them that are conservative, are starting to see things in the industry and say ‘hold on a minute, that’s not how I thought it was or what they thought about our country or our culture.’ But now they’re seeing that is how they feel about it so it’s a really interesting gap between who’s promoting the music and who’s listening to the music at this point,” he said.

Asked how conservatives such as him can beat this woke leftist shift in the country music industry, the “Redneck Riviera” trademark owner pointed to Aaron Lewis’s recent patriotic anthem “Am I the Only One” as an example of the gap between the industry and audience. Despite skyrocketing on the charts and streaming platforms, the industry has completely ignored the song, which slams left-wing activists, including those who tore statutes down during the Black Lives Matter riots in 2020.

“Listen, there’s going to be people in the industry and outside it who say ‘oh, he’s just making that up’ or ‘that’s hyperbole what he’s saying, that’s not really what it is and the industry is not doing that,'” Rich said. “But let’s take the song you just talked about, Aaron Lewis’s song. Yes, it is at the top of streaming platforms and sales platforms–sales is the big one, I mean when people vote with their wallets that’s the strongest vote you’re ever going to get in any industry especially in music. They can stream it for free half the time, but if they actually go purchase it well that tells you something. So he’s out there topping all these charts yet the country music industry won’t back him up. Radio won’t play him. So what does that tell you? Does that tell you what I’m telling you right now about how where the industry sits and where a lot of the artists and audience sits are in two different places–is that a correct statement? Yes it is a correct statement. It’s where it is right now. So, people are voting with their dollars and the industry is going ‘we’re still not going to play it.’ So if you want to know why other country singers don’t come out and say what they really think about things–at least the conservative ones–it’s because of that exact scenario you’re watching play out right now with Aaron Lewis’s song.”



When asked what has changed in the last year, Rich said the left has been “bolstered” because “they’ve seen everybody from Donald Trump on down kicked off of social media.”

“They see that the powers that be in tech and in media are on the left , so they’ve got them on their side, so that emboldens them to step forward and go, ‘Well, there’s really nothing anybody can do about it so, we’re just going to step on out here and just do it. We’re just going to make our purpose be the fact and this is going to play out like we want it to play out, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks because we’ve got all then power on our side,'” he said.

“And guess what?” Rich asked. “They do have that power on their side.”

But conservatives, he continued, still have their voice, and there is one primary reason they are not using it.

“There’s only one word. Fear. They’re afraid of it. They’re afraid of what might happen to them if they push back or they speak up. And that goes all the way from a multiplatinum artist down to just a regular guy or gal, living in America that wants to keep their job or doesn’t want to get kicked off a platform,” he said before explaining his thinking on the matter in the bigger picture.

“What were the founding fathers worried about when they signed the Declaration of Independence? They were signing their death warrants when they signed the Declaration of Independence. If Britain found those men, they were going to hang them, they were going to burn their property, enslave their families, they would erase them. That’s what they were up against. That’s what they were risking to push back against the tyrannical force like England. And they were willing to do it,” Rich said. “‘Give me liberty or give me death’ was not some bumper sticker. It wasn’t a hashtag. It was the attitude it took to found this country.”

Yet, in 2021, Rich continued, people do not say things over fear of getting kicked off of social media.

“That’s not the level of intensity that got the country founded in the first place,” he said, although he suggested people are starting to realize their freedom of speech is more valuable than someone else’s opinion of them.

He added that the left has been “smart and successful at becoming interwoven,” with all the different platforms interconnected in tech in media.

“So if they want to corral you or a certain group, they can do it. … We do not,” he said. “We don’t have any bases covered at this point. We’re playing catch up and now you’re seeing the results of it.”

However, he said he is seeing things “starting to turn a corner” for conservatives, citing the recent wave of parents getting involved in school board meetings as the left pursues radical agenda items such as Critical Race Theory.

“Everybody’s got to stand up on their own two feet and not be afraid to express their opinions about what they see in the country,” he added.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.