Everything Garth Brooks has said about politics

The singer performed 'Amazing Grace' at the 2021 inauguration of Joe Biden

Garth Brooks is courting some political controversy after performing at the inauguration of Joe Biden

The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced on Monday that the country singer would be part of the swearing-in ceremony for the 46th president of the United States alongside previously announced acts Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez.  

The singer appeared following Biden's swearing-in ceremony to perform "Amazing Grace" for those in attendance.

Despite agreeing to sing, Brooks made it clear to his fans that doing so was not a political statement in any way. In fact, the notoriously kind country artist does his best to shy away from talking politics. 

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However, with a career that dates back to the mid-1980s, the celebrity has been unable to avoid wading into political waters at least a handful of times. In light of the debate surrounding his decision to sing at the 2021 inauguration, it’s worth taking a look back at the other times Brooks has dipped into politics. 

Grammy on the Hill

Garth Brooks received the 2010 Grammys on the Hill award.

Garth Brooks received the 2010 Grammys on the Hill award. (Kevin Mazur/BBMA2020/Getty Images for dcp)

In 2010, Brooks was the recipient of the Grammys on the Hill award, dedicated to highlighting artists and politicians who have advocated for the cause of musicians throughout their careers.

Although the award itself is one of politics, Brooks was given the honor thanks to his philanthropic work within the music community.

"As one of the most popular and philanthropic artists, Garth Brooks is an inspiration to musicians and fans alike," Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow said at the time.

Donald Trump’s inauguration

Garth Brooks said he was unable to perform at Donald Trump's inauguration despite being asked.

Garth Brooks said he was unable to perform at Donald Trump's inauguration despite being asked. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Although he performed at Barack Obama’s 2008 swearing-in ceremony, he turned down the opportunity to perform again at Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. 

At the time, Brooks explained he's all about "People Loving People" and is "praying" for Trump but due to a scheduling conflict, he ultimately had to turn down performing.

The country superstar explained in a Facebook Live video that after he was approached by billionaire Steve Wynn about the inauguration gig, Brooks decided to "leave it up to karma." Ticket sales determined Brooks needed to add several dates to his world tour that conflicted with the inauguration.

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"I'll tell you with this whole presidential thing: We got one going out. Pray for him and his family. And for the president going in, pray for him and his family to guide this nation," Brooks said at the time. "Let's stay together. Love, unity -- that's what it's all about."

He continued, "We can't thank the Obamas enough for serving this country," he said. "And may God hold Trump's hand in the decisions that he makes in this country's name as well."

Relationship with Jimmy Carter

Garth Brooks and Jimmy Carter are friends through their involvement with Habitat for Humanity.

Garth Brooks and Jimmy Carter are friends through their involvement with Habitat for Humanity. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)

Although the country star does his best to stay out of politics, he’s more than willing to show his support for former president Jimmy Carter. For years, Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, work closely with Habitat for Humanity, often helping the 39th president of the United States build homes for the underprivileged in America. 

In 2019, Brooks highlighted Carter’s resilience after suffering a fall that required a brief hospitalization only to come back and continue building homes. 

You don't expect anything different from the man," Brooks told Yahoo Entertainment at the time. "He’s just one of those guys, and Ms. Rosalynn's the same way. They're just those people that you just have to be around to actually believe it."

He added: "What the Carters stand for is what we should all shoot for as human beings. Please forget ‘Republican’ or ‘Democrat.’ What they are standing for is as human beings. If we're going to get anywhere as a human race, this is the path we want to follow. So anything keeping any kind of light on that path and those two people's dreams, then count us in.

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"You've got to understand that when you get to heaven, nobody cares about ‘Republican’ or ‘Democrat’ in heaven at all. ‘Welcome to heaven. This is it,’" Brooks concluded. "You don't care who's on the other end of that board that's helping you carry it. You don't care the color of their skin, their sexual preference, their religious preference. It doesn't matter. You're all here to build a house for someone who needs it. Usually for a young lady and her babies, or a family that needs it. So this is way, way, way beyond any political agenda at all."

Accolades by former presidents

Garth Brooks was the inaugural recipient of the POints of Light Award for Caring and Compasson.

Garth Brooks was the inaugural recipient of the POints of Light Award for Caring and Compasson. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

In 2019, Brooks was the recipient of the inaugural Points of Light Award for Caring and Compassion. The accolade is designed to honor late former president George H.W. Bush to a recipient recognize and "honor outstanding individuals who advance solutions to the world’s toughest challenges and exemplify the extraordinary traits of its late founder and the 41st president of the United States," according to its website. 

In accepting the award, the country singer heaped praise on the late POTUS.

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"The fact that this award is a reflection of 41, his beloved Barbara, and the work they believed in is the greatest honor," he said at the time. "An award is only as good as its recipient – my hope and goal is to make the Bush family and the Honorary Chairs proud that Garth Brooks is the first name on this award for caring and compassion."

Although the award was in recognition of traits exemplified by H.W. Bush, former presidents George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama serve as honorary chairs of the committee.

Bernie Sanders confusion

Garth Brooks was mistaken for a Bernie Sanders supporter.

Garth Brooks was mistaken for a Bernie Sanders supporter. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Many were quick to denounce Brooks in 2020 when he was spotted wearing a "Sanders" jersey during an appearance in Detroit. The number on the back was 20, leading many to think that he was supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders in his 2020 presidential bid. 

However, the criticism was unfounded as the jersey ended up having absolutely nothing to do with politics. Brooks wore the No. 20 jersey of former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders – a football legend in the city and NFL Hall of Fame.

Brooks laughed off the viral moment but noted that it led to a jocular discussion of a vice presidential run.

"The whole Sanders thing was nothing other than just ignorance and just silliness. You’re in Detroit wearing a Barry Sanders jersey," he told the Star Tribune. "The whole thing that made it fun for me was here comes a tweet from Barry Sanders saying: ‘I’m running for office; won’t you [Brooks] be my vice president?’ And that put everything in its place. It was very funny."

Political division

Garth Brooks spoke out about the political divide seen in America in 2020.

Garth Brooks spoke out about the political divide seen in America in 2020. (Roy Rochlin/WireImage)

In 2020 in the same interview with the Star Tribune, the country singer couldn’t help but talk politics when discussing the divide he sees in America.

"We’re probably divided 50/50 like everybody else. But because it’s country music and they think it’s 90/10, it’s not. It’s just voices," he said. "That’s why everyone pushed so hard for the vote. The only way you’re going to break stereo­types is let your voice be heard within the stereotype. I was raised where I speak for myself. That’s all I can do. My message forever is tolerance. And don’t vote party, vote person."

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Brooks continued: "Is it in our nature to divide? Are you Democrat or Republican? Are you Black or white? Are you Ford or Chevy? I think it’s in our nature to build a wall between us. We set up cliques. We should be focusing on inclusion. We immediately set up walls to not like people instead of finding reasons to bring them in like family."

Biden’s inauguration

Garth Brooks sings Amazing Grace during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. 

Garth Brooks sings Amazing Grace during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

Shortly after 12 p.m. on Jan. 20, 2021, the country star, dressed in a black blazer and blue jeans, removed his staple cowboy hat as he approached the stage in Washington D.C. before a small crowd. The 58-year-old entertainer then performed an a capella version of "Amazing Grace." 

Prior to that, the star couldn’t help but acknowledge the political nature of the event he agreed to sing at. On a zoom call announcing he would perform, Brooks told reporters that he found the recent violence that broke out at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to be "disturbing and sad." 

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"I've played for every president there is, since Carter, with the exception of Reagan. This is an honor for me to get to serve... and it's one of the things that, if my family is around, no matter who the president-elect is, it's an honor to be asked," he told reporters, according to Entertainment Tonight.