Donald J. Trump is now the 45th president of the United States. He is in charge of one of the most dominant nations in the world, commander and chief of the globe’s strongest army and a man with the net worth of $3.6 billion. Yet he failed to get top class artists to play in his inauguration. During Obama’s two inaugurations in 2009 and 2013, he hosted performances by Beyonce, Jay-Z, Yo-Yo Ma and dozens of other elite performers. Forbes published an article titled “Here Are All the Musicians Performing At Donald Trump’s Inauguration,” explaining how a number of highly successful artists such as Elton John, David Foster, U.K. superstars Charlotte Church and Rebecca Ferguson, Moby, 2 Chainz and the Beach Boys have publicly stated that they were asked to perform at the inauguration but declined. There is a reason why most musicians, whose careers are based off their own unique voice, remained mute. Top-tier artists refused to perform because no words could encapsulate the frenzy of emotions that Trump has ignited across the nation. A single performance, even from the nation’s best, could not come close to voicing the controversy of the election. The only thing that would resonate loud enough is not performing, so that is what many decided to do. Why make a big deal out of the artist lineup in the inauguration? It seems insignificant to American policy and the presidency, but the absence of sound that it voices is deafening. Trump’s lack of ability to yield top musicians during his inauguration is concerning because if he is not able to recruit the best in a field that is insignificant to American policy, it begs the question if he will be able to get the best when it does come to American policy.
We celebrate music unlike anything else in our cultural world. It is the soundtrack of our lives, the voice of our times, the beat of our best and worst days, yet music can be hard to listen to. Truthful, brash, sexist, racist, violent; it is raw emotion, but nevertheless, it is a powerful form of speech, even if it is expressing something we don’t agree with. This week in Washington D.C., the decision musicians made was not to speak. Not to sing. Instead, to sit silent. And that decision has produced a louder roar than any No. 1 hit could. As our 45th President of the United States was inaugurated, musicians decided to skip the ceremony. The performers that did play were mostly country bands that fit the stereotype of Trump’s typical white male supporter. The musicians that chose not to play decided they could not represent the mood and emotions of our country. Today’s music goes beyond just catchy rhythms, it is a fusion of American culture. Musicians verbalize the climate of the nation. They speak the cold, hard truth and they declined performing at the inauguration. That sound is something we can all hear.
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