As an increasing number of artists express reluctance regarding performing for the inauguration for Donald Trump, I recall numerous opportunities I’ve had to perform for various political, state, and national events. Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen (D) invited me to perform at his first inauguration—the first woman with a disability to do so. I will never forget that day, it was 8 degrees and snowing in Nashville. Electric foot warmers were placed under the seats for all the guests on the platform. Laughing while looking down at my two prosthetic legs, I turned to my husband and asked, “How in the world is this going to help me?!”
Six months later, I sang for an event with President George W. Bush (R). The next year, I was invited by First Lady Laura Bush to open the second night of the GOP convention at Madison Square Garden. From my understanding, I also became the first woman with a disability to perform at a national political convention. In addition, the US Military has invited me numerous times to perform at Walter Reed and other military installations with all types of dignitaries in attendance—from various political backgrounds.
Had I been invited and able, I would gratefully and proudly sing for the inauguration of Donald Trump.
While our country seeks to heal from painful divisions, I would lend my voice to demonstrate healing is possible—even from difficult losses and sorrows. I sing for the wounded; for those who lost limbs in combat. I sing for those who face brutal circumstances. I sing for a country I love—a country which provides opportunities for me as a woman with significant disabilities. I use my voice to lift eyes and hearts above rancor and strife—and point them to comfort and possibilities. I sing to show others that regardless of what life hands you, there is still hope, God is sovereign, and, even with severe challenges, one can have purpose, success, and joy.
Living with disabilities as I have for three decades, can help one gain perspective—and gratitude. America is an extraordinary place, an exceptional idea, and a beacon to the world. It is deeply meaningful to me to sing at any event that celebrates this great nation, and I count it a special honor each time I can serve this country by raising my voice to proclaim, “…o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”