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‘I might be the only Republican at this place’: Why Garth Brooks is performing at Joe Biden’s inauguration

With the exception of Ronald Reagan, Garth Brooks has played for every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter. On Wednesday, he’ll add Joe Biden’s name to the list

Garth Brooks performs his first of four shows at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015.
Garth Brooks performs his first of four shows at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. Brooks will perform on Wednesday during the inauguration ceremony for Joe Biden.
Chris Samuels, Deseret News

With the exception of Ronald Reagan, Garth Brooks says he has played for every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter. On Wednesday, he’ll add Joe Biden’s name to that list.

The invitation to perform at Biden’s inauguration ceremony came from Jill Biden, Variety reported. Brooks met the future first lady when he performed “We Shall Be Free” at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

“She’s very welcoming, very warming. ... She’s very easy to talk to,” he said in a virtual press conference on Monday, according to Variety. “She said, ‘It’s your decision, but we would love to have you here.’ … She made a very sweet ask.”

Brooks, a Republican, took the weekend to decide and accepted the invitation Sunday night, the New York Post reported.

“I might be the only Republican at this place,” he joked during Monday’s announcement, according to “Good Morning America.” “But it’s about reaching across and loving one another.”

The announcement got mixed reactions from fans, with some praising the country legend’s decision and others “unfollowing” him, Fox News reported.

During his press announcement, though, the “Friends in Low Places” singer emphasized that his performance on Wednesday “is not a political statement,” according to Entertainment Tonight.

“This is a statement of unity. This is kind of how I get to serve this country,” Brooks said. “This is an honor for me to get to serve. ... And it’s one of the things that, if my family is around, no matter who the president-elect is, it’s an honor to be asked.”

Brooks added that he was “lucky enough” to receive an invite to play at Donald Trump’s inauguration four years ago, but had to turn it down due to his conflicting tour schedule, according to Variety. He said he has played for Trump on other occasions.

Brooks’ announcement came on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Brooks cited one of his favorite quotes from Dr. King: “We can’t start living until we rise above the narrows of our own individualistic concerns, and focus on the broader concerns of all humanity.”

Garth Brooks performs his first of four shows at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015.
Garth Brooks performs his first of four shows at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. Brooks will perform at the inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20.
Chris Samuels, Deseret News

During the press event, Brooks said he was “so tired of being divided” and welcomed the opportunity to take part in the inauguration ceremony and help the nation heal, according to PBS.org.

“There is a common theme in every presidential election: New beginnings, new starts, but it is the word unity, the word love, the word that we belong to each other, he said, according to the New York Post. “It is going to take all of us, what I want for all of us to do is listen. We are more divided than ever, that bridge that brings us together, it is reaching across, loving one another, because that is what is going to get us through the most divided times that we have.”

In addition to Brooks, Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem at the inauguration, according to the Deseret News. Jennifer Lopez will also perform. The ceremony takes place Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol, at 10 a.m. MT.