Nashville Dems Take On Sean Hannity
L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
The group goes by the name of Music Row Democrats, and one of its apparent goals is to get rid of the notion that country music executives, writers and artists are all Republicans. As of this writing, the group includes over 700 record label execs, producers, songwriters and musicians who work on Nashville's Music Row, including Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris.
The folks involved have a bit of a problem, though. The Grand Ole Opry and the Grand Old Party have a tradition of togetherness that extends backward, forward and all the way to the Oval Office. Richard Nixon actually tickled the ivories on the Opry stage. Ronald Reagan helped spring then-inmate Merle Haggard out of prison. And our current president has ties to the country music community, too.
Brooks & Dunn, Travis Tritt, Hank Williams Jr. and others picked and sang at the 2001 Bush inauguration. Dubya invited a couple of other Georges named Strait and Jones to visit the White House. And country mega-stars like Reba McEntire are contributing to Bush's re-election campaign.
Speaking of Reba, she's connected to another prominent Republican figure who doesn't hold political office yet. He's the Colmes drubbing country music-loving Sean Hannity.
Much to country Dem consternation, Hannity is as thick as blueberry pie with some of the industry's biggest stars. He's been pivotal in promoting some of country's most heartfelt songs that emerged after the 9/11 attacks, including Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" and Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten?" He uses Martina McBride's smash hit "Independence Day" as his radio theme song. He rubbed patriotic elbows with McBride, Darryl Worley and Sara Evans at the 2003 Freedom Concert that he spearheaded, which raised money to benefit the children of those who gave their lives in the war on terror. He even took to the stage alongside legendary fiddler Charlie Daniels for a rap-along rendition of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."
On July 3 at Provo, Utah's LaVell Edwards Stadium, Hannity is set to appear at another country music laden event called the Stadium of Fire. He'll be joined by Reba, a number of "American Idol" and "Star Search" winners and other performers. Like last year, the upcoming festivities will be broadcast live to members of the military around the world via the American Forces Network.
In an indication of inevitable success, last March Hannity offered 1,000 promo seats for the occasion. The tickets disappeared in a single day. Executive Director Carl W. Bacon told the Provo Daily Herald that ticket sales were "the best we've ever had in history."
Not that Hannity's second Stadium of Fire appearance is without controversy. There's some leftover static from last year's show, when Utah Democratic Party Chairman Donald Dunn called Hannity "divisive," a "pimp for the GOP" and refused an invitation to debate the TV/radio personality-turned-author at a book signing.
It could be that the Hannity country connection is one of the reasons why Dixie Dems are making plans to resist the addition of more Republican members to their ranks. Bob Titley is the executive vice president of TBA Entertainment, which manages Brooks & Dunn, Terri Clark and Clay Walker. "We felt our political voice was being stifled," Titley told the Associated Press. "We're associated with a community that is perceived as being predominantly conservative and Republican, when in fact that isn't the case."
Music Row Democrats has even indicated recently that it wants to help get John Kerry elected and place Democrats at all levels of government.
That ought to make Sean Hannity and his country buddies fiddle even louder.