Country stars mostly shied away from being forthright with their political beliefs known in the 2010s, but the pendulum seems to have swung in the other direction in the last couple of years, with stars like Jason Aldean coming out as explicitly anti-Biden. The shift has really become apparent, though, with the unveiling of the entertainment lineup for this weekend’s Turning Point USA-sponsored America Fest conference in Phoenix, which consists entirely of current or former major-label country acts.
Brantley Gilbert and Dustin Lynch are the biggest names on a performance bill that will see their sets interspersed among speeches by such controversial figures of the right as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Tucker Carlson, Ted Cruz, Charlie Kirk, Candance Owens, Donald Trump Jr. and even recently exonerated shooter Kyle Rittenhouse.
Lest anyone unfamiliar with the country mainstream think the stars represented are all marginal figures in the genre, Lynch just landed the No. 1 single in the nation this week with “Thinking ‘Bout You,” a duet with MacKenzie Porter that just reached the top spot on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.
Another current country luminary on the lineup is Russell Dickerson, who landed four No. 1 singles in a row between 2017 and 2020, all of which went at least platinum, with one of them, “Yours,” certified by the RIAA as triple-platinum.
It may be less of a surprise to see Lee Greenwood on the bill, whose “God Bless the USA” has gradually gone from being a nonpartisan patriotic anthem to something more specifically claimed by the right. Rounding out the bill are one-time “Voice” star Raelynn, who was not previously known to take especially political stands; Adam Doleac, an up-and-comer with Sony Nashville; and Dee Jay Silver, best known for his work as a DJ in Aldean’s touring entourage for many years. All are being advertised as doing full sets.
None of the reps for the seven artists participating in Turning Point USA’s conference responded to Variety reaching out for comment about their appearances at the highly partisan gathering, with the exception of Doleac’s publicist, who could not immediately reach the singer for comment.
AmericaFest USA takes place in Phoenix Dec. 18-21. Others on the speakers’ bill include Kayleigh McEnany, Jeanine Pirro, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Sarah Palin, Sebastian Gorka and Devin Nunes.
In a likely indicator of subjects to be addressed at the conference, among the “trending topics” listed on the home page for the conference are “Chinese coronavirus,” Antifa, critical race theory, “professor watchlist,” “campus crazy,” “leftist crazy,” transgender issues, cancel culture, woke culture, vaccination, Hollywood, gun rights, the Second Amendment, communism and socialism.