Turns out Brooks isn’t trying to make a political statement about the president-elect—the inauguration just conflicted with tour dates in Cincinnati.
As Brooks kicked off his Facebook Live chat Monday afternoon, his production team informed him that half the comments on his live chat were asking about the inauguration.
Brooks immediately addressed the issue. He said after a performance in front of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, TMZ asked him for his thoughts about performing at the inauguration.
“I told them it’s always an honor to serve,” he said. “I hadn’t been asked to at that point.”
He said that he and close friend Steve Wynn, who booked the event, later sat down to discuss the possibility of him performing. They decided to “leave it up to karma.” His World Tour ended up getting booked in Cincinnati through Trump’s inauguration, so he declined to perform in Washington D.C. on Friday.
It wouldn’t have been a first for Brooks. He performed at President Barack Obama’s 2008 inauguration. Brooks added that he thinks the country needs to become more unified.
“I’m going to tell you with this whole presidential thing—we got one going out, pray for him and his family,” Brooks said. “And for the president going in, pray for him and his family as they guide this nation. Let’s stay together in love and unity, that’s what it’s all about.”
Brooks also quoted Martin Luther King, saying “the most durable power that we’ve known is love.”
Not all of his fans believed his reasoning. Users on Twitter voiced their doubts and aired their disappointment.
@garthbrooks very disappointed that you're not going to play at the Presidential A Naga ration loyalty to the president should come first— Noel Clark (@tnttown) January 17, 2017
@garthbrooks You have no say over your show dates? I have lost all respect for you. Keep trying to convenience yourself you are a CHRISTIAN.— Fran Wurth (@wurth_fran) January 17, 2017
While Brooks will not perform at the inauguration, Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down, Lee Greenwood, 16-year-old America’s Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho, the Radio City Rockettes and the Morman Tabernacle Choir are on the bill.
Meanwhile, the list of artists who declined to perform continues to grow: Andrea Bocelli, Céline Dion, Elton John, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, and Bruce Springsteen all reportedly declined. A Springsteen cover band dropped out on Monday, after initially agreeing to perform.