Singer Lee Greenwood, most famous for his song “God Bless the U.S.A.,” will be performing at the "Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration" concert on January 19, as well as at a dinner for Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
Greenwood, 74, has performed at the inaugurations of three presidents – Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
On January 17 the singer was interviewed by Rolling Stone writer Kory Grow about playing the 2107 inaugural. Greenwood called President-elect Trump “a patriot” and said it was “a thrill” to be “involved in the festivities.”
You didn't want "God Bless the U.S.A." to be associated with a political party. Has it ever bothered you that it has been seemingly adopted by the Republican Party?
Well, no. I'm a conservative Christian, but I don't use my stage nor my music politically. Other people would like to, so I try to stay on the fringes of that and not be involved. For this election, I was not touring or campaigning for either candidate or for any candidate for that matter.
President-elect Trump's campaign was ruthless and controversial. Did you have any reservations about performing for him?
Well, no, because I'm not really performing for him. The Inaugural Committee chose entertainers to come and entertain the crowd. It'll be incidental, I think, that he will probably be on the Lincoln Memorial stage as that concert is in tribute to the change of power. I will also be singing at the vice president[-elect]'s dinner by request. And it's a thrill for us to do that and be involved in the festivities.
Did you vote for Donald Trump and Mike Pence? Are you a fan of their policies?
I'm going to reserve who I voted for because I don't want that to be public opinion, because then they'll think it's political, so I can't tell you who I voted for.
What are your personal feelings about Donald Trump?
I think he's going to be a great president. I love his slogan, "Let's make America great again," and I'm confident that he'll take a good shot at it.
Do you feel America is not great?
America's always been great, but I think in the past years, we've had a struggle internationally and domestically, and I just hope conditions improve.
But that slogan, "Make America Great Again," reads a bit like he lost faith in the country.
Well, I don't think there's any doubt that Donald Trump, our President-elect, is a patriot. He's a businessman, and I think he's going to do the best for our country economically. I think that now that he's put a general in his cabinet, they'll have a consensus of opinion on ISIS, and I think that's a great thing, we need to get that under control. And the immigration issues. There's so many things I think he'll address in the first six months, and we're praying for his success.
Grow also asked Greenwood about women, minorities and “LGBTQ people”:
In your song "God Bless the U.S.A," you sing, "at least I know I'm free" and it seems that a lot of people are still fighting for rights, whether it's minorities, women, LGBTQ people. They don't feel totally free. What do you think about that?
C'mon. I'm a singer, an entertainer and a writer. I don't represent any particular group of people or their culture overall; it's just for Americans. And we all have a struggle about who we are, and I struggled for my life as well. It's what I do. It's my profession. And the song I wrote seems to be embraced by most Americans. And that makes me very happy that I think I've done something good for the country. Beyond that, I'm not going to get involved in the struggles nor the politics of what's going on.