Brantley Gilbert and Dustin Lynch are among the performers at the upcoming conservative conference AmericaFest, slated for Dec. 18-21 in Phoenix. The conference is one of several annual summits hosted by the conservative nonprofit organization Turning Point USA.
Other country performers on the lineup include “Home Sweet” singer Russell Dickerson, RaeLynn, Adam Doleac, “God Bless the U.S.A.” singer Lee Greenwood, and Dee Jay Silver. Lynch’s song “Thinking ‘Bout You” with Mackenzie Porter is in its second week atop Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart.
AmericaFest’s official website lists several conservative speakers, including Donald Trump Jr., Fox News host Tucker Carlson, commentator Candace Owens, Texas senator Ted Cruz, Florida congressman Matt Gaetz and more as speakers for the event. On its official social media pages, the Charlie Kirk-founded Turning Point announced that Kyle Rittenhouse is also set to make an appearance. During the 2020 protests in Kenosha, Wis., Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and wounded a third. He was acquitted of all charges after a highly publicized trial in November.
While country music artists have tended to stay quiet about their political leanings (as many remember the backlash that trio the Chicks — previously called the Dixie Chicks — received after publicly criticizing President George W. Bush and the 2003 Iraq war), several country artists on both ends of the political spectrum have become more politically outspoken in recent years, whether on social media, in interviews, or in their music.
Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, artists including Mickey Guyton, Kane Brown, Chris Stapleton and Dolly Parton all spoke out in support of Black Lives Matter.
Meanwhile, during the 2020 presidential election, Maren Morris filmed a video endorsing then-presidential candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as part of an “I Will Vote” democratic fundraiser. The Chicks returned in 2020 with an album that included the politically charged track “March, March,” and also performed during the 2020 Democratic National Convention, while Trace Adkins performed the national anthem during the 2020 Republication National Convention. Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard performed their collaboration “Undivided” at President Biden’s inauguration in January, while Garth Brooks performed “Amazing Grace.”
“The main message they’re pushing is unity,” Brooks said during a press conference in January. “That’s right down my alley, man, because I think if we’re gonna get anywhere, we’re gonna get there together.”
Other artists such as Jason Aldean, Travis Tritt and Aaron Lewis have been open about their conservative views. Lewis’ right-leaning song “Am I the Only One” topped Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart, while Toby Keith’s “Happy Birthday, America” took both left- and right-leaning politics to task in a lament about America’s future. In the lead up to the 2020 election, artists including Tritt and John Rich took to social media to express conservative viewpoints, while Kid Rock joined Trump Jr. at a Trump rally in Michigan. Tritt later canceled three shows that required either proof of COVID-19 vaccinations or masks.
Aldean has defended his wife, Brittany, after she posted photos on Instagram with anti-President Biden shirts, and later modeled for his wife’s line of conservative-themed apparel. “There’s times where I feel like I don’t have a choice but to speak up or say something because I feel nobody else in the industry, or not a lot of people in our industry do that for fear,” Aldean said during an interview with Audacy’s Rob+Holly. “I just feel like somebody’s got to be that guy and if it’s me, then it’s fine.” He later added, “At some point, it’s gotten to where if you’re a conservative and you’re in this business, you’re not allowed to speak.”