Country Artist John Rich on “Wokeism” in Nashville and the Music Industry

Country songwriter and performer John Rich is talking about the “wokeism” he perceives in Nashville and in the music business in general.

Videos by American Songwriter

In an interview with PRAGERU from earlier this week, Rich derided the influx of creative parameters he says he and other artists have to endure to proceed with their dreams.

“The wave of wokeism that’s hit this country and especially the entertainment business—that made its way to Nashville. So, these artists are sitting there and they’re being told by their publicist, their managers, the heads of their record labels, ‘Hey, we know that you think these things about America, that you’re against kind of all this woke stuff that we do’—they don’t call themselves ‘woke,’ of course.

“‘But we know that you’re not really for that. But hey, don’t even think about putting out a post that pushes against that. Don’t you say, X, Y, Z on your microphone or on your stage. No, you cannot record that song because it says this.’ And they just completely control these artists and the artist only has two choices at that point.

“Do they want to go have a career? It’s been their dream. Do they play the game, go forward, and just don’t step on these land mines? Or do they go out and hit the trip wires and light the place up? And lose their record deal. And not get invited to the award show and radio won’t play them and so forth. But basically, erase their career.

“That’s what they’re faced with. Is there freedom and art in Nashville, like total freedom? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. It’s sad.”

The comments come in line with headlines that Rich made in July.

On July 22, Rich took to former President Donald Trump’s social media network, Truth Social, to announce what is sure to be a controversial new song titled “Progress.”

In the song’s lyrics, Rich remarks with an opinion on a variety of divisive subjects, including, in his view:  

  • America’s replacement of religion with government.
  • President Biden’s Build Back Better bill.
  • Immigration and the deaths of American soldiers during the Afghanistan evacuation. 
  • How virus response measures encroached on freedom.
  • And the shutting down of Main Street while Wall Street profited at all-time highs.  

And Rich’s reaction to all this “Progress,” as he calls it, is to take it all and stick it where the sun don’t shine.  

But one may wonder when Rich talks about a lack of total freedom what does he mean? In the interview clip above, he didn’t mention any specifics, nor did he acknowledge the fact many have had to endure strictures and limitations on their careers in the past, from racism and sexism to any number of smaller restrictions.

Nevertheless, Rich is sharing his mind about the censoring that he’s dealing with, whatever that might be, exactly.

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