Garth Brooks opted to leave his guitar out of his Inauguration Day performance.
Instead, the country superstar walked onto the stage empty-handed and slightly tipped his black cowboy hat in acknowledgement of those in attendance. He then removed the hat to sing a simple but stirring a cappella version of “Amazing Grace.”
Before breaking into the final verse, Brooks asked everyone — those in attendance, those at work, those watching at home — to sing together, “as one, united.”
Then he put his hat back on and exited the stage, shaking hands with President Joe Biden, former Vice President Mike Pence, Vice President Kamala Harris and Barack and Michelle Obama on his way out.
Brooks performed “We Shall Be Free” at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, the Deseret News previously reported. With the exception of Ronald Reagan, Garth Brooks says he has played for every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter.
“I might be the only Republican at this place,” he joked when he announced he would be performing at the inauguration, according to “Good Morning America.” “But it’s about reaching across and loving one another.”
He added that his performance was “not a political statement.”
“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’ decision to perform at the inauguration received mixed reactions from fans, with some praising the country legend’s decision and others “unfollowing” him, Fox News previously reported.
But many people took to Twitter to share their appreciation for Brooks following his performance:
Amazing grace... a cappella, by Garth Brooks, to a quiet crowd with millions at home feeling it in their hearts. Another deeply moving moment.— Dan Rather (@DanRather) January 20, 2021
As a metalhead and electronic music fan, I never thought I would tear up watching Garth Brooks sing Amazing Grace.— Meow Meow Fuzzyface (@null_is_one) January 20, 2021
Garth Brooks asking everyone at home to join in singing Amazing Grace -- this is communal worship, in the virtual pandemic age.— Elizabeth Dias (@elizabethjdias) January 20, 2021