It’s a big gig on a big stage — but how much politics are involved for the performers who play the Republican National Convention?
The lineup of musicians scheduled for the big show or affiliated events include some of showbiz’s few vocal Republicans: Country star Trace Adkins and rock star Kid Rock, set to headline concerts at Tampa’s Liberty Plaza, have both endorsed Mitt Romney. Conventioneers inside the hall will hear from the likes of the Oak Ridge Boys, stalwarts since the Reagan era, and Ayla Brown, songstress daughter of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).
But as for BeBe Winans? A registered Democrat, the gospel/R&B star sang at the 2004 Democratic convention and later campaigned for President Obama. But he gladly took the unpaid gig when invited by the RNC to sing on the convention’s closing night.
“I want to remind people that before any association with any party that we’re all Americans,” he told us. “No matter who wins, if we don’t come together and really invest in the country we love, we’re not going to solve the problems.”
Winans said he alerted the RNC that he would likely be singing at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, too, and that they had no problems with that.
Oh, and is he set to sing at the Democratic convention?
“I was, but the invitation was taken back,” Winans said. Oooh. “No hard feelings,” he added. DNC officials did not respond for comment.
Lynyrd Skynyrd finessed the politics better. “Myself, I’m a Republican,” said frontman Johnny Van Zant. “There are a couple of Democrats in the band. They weren’t too happy about it,” but had agreed to play before their concert suffered one of this week’s many storm cancellations.
Is Journey political? Nope, said a rep. Its Thursday night Creative Coalition party is just one of “hundreds of private events” that hire the band, “and not meant to endorse any candidate.” Reps for Gavin DeGraw, singing at an RIAA party Tuesday, did not return calls.
There is, of course, a distinction between official GOP events and the parties thrown by the non-partisan lobbying and advocacy groups that stake out both conventions. Yet politics seems to have tripped up rapper/political gadfly Wyclef Jean, who abruptly pulled out of a gig performing at a gala for “Got Your 6” — a group advocating ways to integrate veterans into civilian life — when he realized it was being held concurrent with the GOP convention, his rep told HaitianBeatz.com. The group, which is also throwing a Charlotte party, replaced him with country star Sara Evans — a solid and safe Republican from way back.
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