Country music stars distance from NRA after school shooting
At least five country musicians have withdrawn from the National Rifle Association's annual meeting after the Texas school shooting.
Country music has long been associated with America's pro-gun lobby, but numerous singers have distanced themselves from the NRA in the aftermath of a school tragedy in Texas.
At least five country musicians, including "God Bless the USA" vocalist Lee Greenwood, have withdrawn from the National Rifle Association's annual meeting, which begins Friday in Texas. Don McLean, the singer of "American Pie", also backed out.
Their original billing emphasizes the intimate links between country music and the gun-rights movement in the United States, but analysts say their withdrawal reflects changed sentiments.
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McLean, 76, stated that performing at the convention's "Grand Ole Night of Freedom" performance on Saturday would be "disrespectful and painful" after 19 children and two instructors were killed at an elementary school in the small town of Uvalde.
Greenwood, whose patriotic signature song regularly rings out at Donald Trump rallies, said he canceled "out of respect" for those mourning, while Larry Gatlin said he couldn't perform "in good conscience."
According to USA Today, T. Graham Brown and Larry Stewart, lead singer of the country band Restless Heart, have also withdrawn.
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Country music has always been a favorite of conservative white Americans, conjuring up images of stetson hats, cowboy boots, and the Stars and Stripes flag.
Its fan base is mostly white, with roots in the predominantly Republican southern states of the United States.
"Country music is not monolithic by any means," Professor Mark Brewer, who teaches a class on music and American politics at the University of Maine, told AFP.
"But I think it's safe to say that the predominant themes over the years have been more conservative, maybe with a hint of libertarian populism mixed in."
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According to Brewer, "longstanding linkages" exist between country music, conservative politics, and gun culture. One of the factors is geographical location.
"There's a big regional overlap," according to Brewer, as "country music has its origins in the American south and southern American politics have always been conservative."
"The United States as a whole has a pretty prevalent gun culture, but it's even more pronounced in the south," he added.
Professor Joel Schwindt of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee claimed the genre was "very carefully promoted" to white America from the beginning. Adding to its appeal amongst white working-class groups was a "firm support for the military."