On Friday, January 20, Donald Trump be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, and a handful of performers will help drown out the widespread wailing and gnashing of teeth. Though Trump didn’t snag many A-list performers, each of them did have to endure a gauntlet of public scrutiny before accepting (or declining). The full list of Trump inauguration performers and their stories of acceptance (or non-acceptance) are below.
Note: Trump supporter Kanye West was not asked to perform because his music was not “typically and traditionally American” enough.
3 Doors Down
The poor man’s version of Nickelback will reportedly play the inaugural festivities.
The Beach Boys
Back in December, a Beach Boys spokesperson told People magazine that it was would announce its decision whether or not to play the Trump inauguration. Apparently, they’ve accepted…. at least that’s what a source has told The Washington Post.
Regarding his performance, the Indian-American DJ said, “I’ll be the only person who looks like me on that stage. I could have boycotted and been invisible, but I believe I’m going to generate value for people who look like me just by being on that stage and being visible. My message is peace and love through music. I can’t believe they asked me, really.”
The Frontmen of Country
The trio consisting of Tim Rushlow, former lead singer of Little Texas, Larry Stewart of Restless Heart and Richie McDonald of Lonestar, will reportedly play the inauguration. Of these acts, only Lonestar still has chart success—Little Texas last saw a hit in 1995, and Restless Heart hasn’t had one since 1993.
The 16-year-old America’s Got Talent finalist will sing the national anthem despite the fact that she’s been labelled a traitor for “betraying” her 18-year-old transgender sister. Trump has promised to reverse Barack Obama’s executive orders which could include one protecting trans federal employees from workplace discrimination and another allowing public school bathroom access for trans youth. Evancho claims that she is singing foremost to honor her country.
“Lord of the Dance” Michael Flatley
The 58-year-old Chicago native and his group will reportedly stomp the stage for Trump, according to The Irish Times.
As far as we know, actor Jon Voight does not play any instrument, so he’ll probably just give a speech, do a reading, whistle or make fart noises with his hands. He’s against same-sex marriage even though his daughter Angelina Jolie is bisexual and he starred in Midnight Cowboy, a homoerotic 1969 film about a male hustler.
Lee Greenwood will sing the song he is best known for, “God Bless the USA” just as he has done for presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush (note that Obama didn’t invite him). Even though Greenwood calls himself a conservative Christian and considers Trump “a patriot”, he claims that he didn’t intend his famous song to be political and refuses to say whether he voted for Trump, though something tells us that he did.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
The 360-member, all-volunteer choir will reportedly sing “America the Beautiful” during the inauguration. Jan Chamberlin, one of the choir members, publicly quit the choir after refusing to perform for Trump. In a now-private (or deleted) Facebook post, Chamberlin wrote: “I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him.” The Mormon Church is rabidly anti-gay and has a long history of supporting so-called ex-gay therapy.
The Piano Guys
On their website, the Christian YouTube stars posted a long explanation of their decision to play the inauguration, stating, “We sincerely hope and pray for your understanding. We don’t feel right limiting our positive message only to people that believe or act the same way we do. We haven’t changed our message… We’re still doing what we’ve always done – playing for anyone who will hear our musical message with the hope that it persuades its listeners to love others.”
Some of the Rockettes
After some back and forth between the Rockettes’ management and individual dancers who felt uncomfortable high-kicking for a professed sexual assaulter, the longstanding New York dance group has said that they will not penalize performers who decide not to participate. In a recent podcast, of David Plotz, host of Slate’s Political Gabfest, opposed the Rockette boycott, comparing their refusal to perform to bakers, photographers and venue owners who refuse to serve same-sex weddings.
While scheduling conflicts have prevented Anka from performing his famous song “My Way”, Nancy Sinatra (daughter of Frankie Sinatra, the man who helped make “My Way” an iconic hit) has pointed out that the song’s opening lyric is, “And now the end is near”; the perfect start to a fumbling and possibly apocalyptic presidency.
It’s also unclear whether Dion was ever actually invited to perform at the inauguration. She claims that millionaire Steve Wynn invited her, Wynn says he didn’t. Either way, she’s not performing because she was already booked to perform at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Daaaaaang. Nobody refuses The Donald! Y’know… except for everyone else on this list.
The Welsh singer-songwriter publicly declined Trump’s inauguration invitation via Twitter, writing, “Your staff have asked me to sing at your inauguration, a simple Internet search would show I think you’re a tyrant. Bye”. She even included four poop emojis. Daaaang!
While Foster has produced music for a wide range of stars, from Madonna and Barbara Streisand to Alice Cooper and Mary J. Blige, the 16-time Grammy winner reportedly declined an invitation to perform for Trump over worries that it would upset Clinton supporters.
Even though Trump transition team member Anthony Scaramucci told the BBC that the incredibly gay singer-songwriter would play Trump’s inauguration (proof of Trump’s nonexistent support for LGBTQ rights), John’s publicist quickly squashed that rumor, stating that he had declined the invitation via email. It’s not surprising, considering John’s support of Hillary Clinton and his “fear for the world” over Trump’s presidency. But John isn’t above playing music for hateful conservative bigots—remember when he played Rush Limbaugh’s wedding for $1 million?
Via a Facebook Live video, the country music star explained that casino mogul Steve Wynn approached him about performing at the inauguration, but that Brooks had to turn the invitation down because of a two-weekend performance commitment in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Holliday—who is best known for her performance of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from the musical Dreamgirls—had performed at the inauguration of both the Bushes, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. She reportedly began receiving death threats after agreeing to sing at Trump’s inauguration. While these death threats didn’t discourage her from performing, widespread disappointment among her LGBTQ fans did. She ultimately declined the invitation, saying, “I didn’t realize that people weren’t really over the election” and adding that her LGBTQ fans had educated her on political issues affecting them in a Trump administration.
While we would have loved seeing 60-something-year-old men in studded leather and black-and-white face makeup shredding guitars and sticking their tongues out for the camera, KISS frontman Gene Simmons reportedly turned down the invitation because of a scheduling conflict. Uh-huh. It’s probably because the band is still exhausted from saving Santa.
A week ago, Moby said via Instagram that a booking agent had approached him about DJing at an inaugural ball for Trump. Moby’s response: “Hahahahaha, wait, Hahahaha, really? I guess I’d DJ at an inaugural ball if as payment #trump released his tax returns. Also I would probably play public enemy and stockhausen remixes to entertain the republicans.” Yes, we’re sure Republicans want to hear brooding German electronica and songs like “Fight the Power”, “911 is a Joke” and “Anti-Nigger Machine.”
Although she’s signed with Columbia Records in the U.S., we’re unsure why anyone would invite an English-born contestant from the U.K. version of The X Factor to sing at an American inauguration. All the same, Ferguson said she’d sing if they let her perform “Strange Fruit”, a sombre Civil Rights era tune about lynching. Nice.
The former lead singer of the glam metal band Mötley Crüe said that he had been hired as an inauguration performer two months before the election even happened. Then, ten days after the election, he was disinvited. We guess Trump doesn’t like glam metal.