Unlike the liberal pop and hip-hop artists who participated in the Women’s Marches around the nation on Saturday, essentially preaching to their choir, country artists possess something unique in igniting change: a kinship with rural America, conservatives and Christians, and the ear of many of those who voted Donald Trump into the presidency. Madonna speaking in bluster and hyperbole won’t change their minds; but a concerned, familiar voice they hear on country radio may be able to relay why this is such a dangerous time and spark dialogue in fans resistant to such bluster.
[I]f you oppose the policies (or lack thereof) of this unqualified president and remain silent? Your apathy would make Johnny Cash roll over in his grave.
Cash, revered as a deity and even referenced in songs by many of today’s stars, never shied away from criticizing social injustice, recording songs like “Man in Black,” “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” and the Vietnam War critique “What Is Truth.” Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson have been equally outspoken, along with pioneers like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells, who fearlessly championed women’s rights. Many of those names quickly cross the lips of contemporary artists when asked to cite their influences – as do rock artists like Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp, two songwriters who openly call out authoritarian wrongdoing with strength, conviction and honesty.
[I]t’s no longer a reasonable excuse to say that country artists are stuck in the stranglehold of radio, or that speaking out means a guaranteed Dixie Chicks-style blacklisting. Yes, there will be fallout, but after this weekend’s parade of lies, falsehoods and “alternative facts” bullshit by the administration, it’s too dangerous not to stand up.
“My personal life is the same. At the end of the day, this is just my job. I love what I do and it’s a great job. But it’s like my alter ego. There’s Chris Brown the singer, and then there‘s Christopher Brown, the the down- home Tappahannock boy that plays video games and basketball and hangs out.”