Country crooner Toby Keith is being forced to defend his decision to perform at a concert during the inauguration festivities in January. A country music festival in Illinois is being pressured to delete Keith from scheduled performers after some residents of Naperville complained that he is “too political." While Keith did not endorse any candidate during the 2016 presidential election, he refuses to "apologize for performing for our country or military."
Naperville resident Amy Kakkuri told the Chicago Tribune that Keith’s prospective singing date on June 30 at the Ribfest is “overtly polarizing and political." Ribfest, however, is standing by its man.
"Ribfest talent is negotiated and selected months in advance of the event," read a statement on the festival’s Facebook page. "At no time does the Exchange Club of Naperville make any political statement or endorsement. At no time are artists booked based on their political beliefs or actions."
In August 2016, Keith told Entertainment Weekly: "This election, I don’t think it makes a difference. I can’t believe there’s 300 million Americans in this country, and we’ve got these two as our final two. It’s absolutely crazy."
Known for his patriotic ballad, "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," Keith joins other artists who have gotten into the crosshairs of progressives and Democrats. Teenaged Jackie Evancho sang the National Anthem on the steps of the Capitol on Inauguration despite criticisms from her fans. She said it was an honor to sing for her country, despite having declined to endorse any political candidate.