Country music superstar Garth Brooks has always tried to cater to everyone along the periphery of the mainstream in his career. As one of country music’s first major ‘crossover’ artists, he made a name by mixing a traditional southern style with the flash of Top 40 radio. So he’s always been known as an artist who was never afraid to break traditional stereotypes and go against the grain.
So it should probably come as no surprise that Garth Brooks has chosen to take a much more neutral stance than many of his country brethren when it comes to the current social climate. Particularly the debate raging right now over LGBTQ rights. Even more specifically, the trans movement, and its effect on both society and children.
On one side of the debate, conservatives argue that displays of an alternative lifestyle are indoctrinating children. On the other? A sometimes overly outlandish for equality… and a search for some kind of American identity.
It doesn’t appear like there’s going to be a peaceful resolution any time soon.
— The Intellectualist (@highbrow_nobrow) June 17, 2023
For his part, Garth Brooks isn’t taking part in the dance. He appears to be more focused on running his business and keeping all of his patrons happy. In a recent video, he announced that his bar, Friends in Low Places, would continue serving Bud Light products, despite backlash from right-wing groups toward the product.
Anheuser Busch’s number-one beer has been the target of a boycott ever since they partnered with trans internet star Dylan Mulvaney in a promotion involving a ‘rainbow can’. That has sparked similar customer action against the retail chain Target and other businesses that have shown public support for the LGBTQ movement.
That’s when the thunder rolled.
❤️GARTH BROOKS: “Diversity. Inclusiveness. That’s me. That’s always been me… diversity is the answer to our problems. If you come to our bar, come in with love.” @garthbrooks addresses the unhinged backlash to his NASHVILLE bar carrying Bud Light. This is leadership. pic.twitter.com/f6SSY9nZbC
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) June 13, 2023
Despite criticism, Brooks was shameless when it came to what his statements meant in the grander scheme of things. Now, he and the TuneIn exclusive radio station he manages, The BIG 615, will sponsor NASCAR driver Tyler Riddick and the 23XI racing team for the upcoming NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway.
It’s an almost ironic combination, as both Brooks and NASCAR have received backlash from their traditional fan bases for being too ‘woke’. A vast majority of racing fans have always been conservative and mostly from the South. But the global expansion of the sport has seen many changes, many of which haven’t been accepted. Despite being a Country Music Hall of Famer, Brooks has received a lot of backlash as someone who ‘forgot where he came from’.
He goes into his venture on the track with high hopes and for good reason. He has a promising young driver behind the wheel. The 27-year-old Reddick is a four-time NASCAR Cup Series race winner.
“What a cool opportunity and great place for the 23XI team to partner with Garth Brooks, TuneIn, and MoneyLion,” Reddick said as part of the official announcement. “Racing back in Nashville has been great for our sport and fans, and I can’t think of a more iconic artist to feature on the No. 45 car. It’s a real honor for me and I hope we can put on a good show for Garth and all the fans.”
Garth Brooks won’t be the only megastar involved. 23XI is the racing team owned by NBA icon Michael Jordan. SO Riddick definitely has some celebrity support to back his Camry when the rubber meets the road in Nashville.
“The connection between NASCAR and country music is a natural one, and we’re thrilled to partner with Garth and TuneIn to help highlight the launch of the BIG 615,” said Steve Lauletta, 23XI team president. “Our team is always looking for ways to be unique while also helping brands reach new audiences, and this partnership is sure to drive awareness of TuneIn and the new channel to the millions of NASCAR fans.”
For his part, the singer says he can’t wait to be a part of the rodeo known as ‘racin’.
“It’s easy to see why NASCAR is such a fan-driven sport,” said Garth Brooks. “Hell, we just have our logo on the car and I feel like I’m driving the car myself! This is exciting!”
We’ll see if Brooks can balance his political beliefs with his professional endeavors. If not? He could be left standing outside the fire.