Amid growing nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, country music has had to confront and question some of its own Southern symbols in recent months.
Lady A opted to drop “Antebellum” from their name, The Chicks scrapped “Dixie,” and Mississippi native Faith Hill called for the removal of the Confederate emblem from her home state’s flag -- a measure that state's governor signed into law June 30.
Luke Bryan says that the conversation has been a sobering educational experience, especially when he hears from fans who feel unwelcome at his concerts because of the color of their skin.
“I have sat up at night after hearing from African American audience members who say they’ve felt uncomfortable at my shows through the years,” the singer admits during an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
As a high-profile performer, Luke acknowledges that he always chooses his words carefully before speaking out about issues he believes in.
“I’m always gonna walk a smart line, but I’m not scared,” he reflects, citing his 2018 hit “Most People Are Good.” That song contains the line “I believe you love who you love / It ain’t nothing you should ever be ashamed of,” which stood out to many as a statement of support for the LGBTQ community.
“I had a lot of people ask me, ‘Well, does that mean you want to plant a flag and support the gay and lesbian community?’ I’m like, ‘I’m not saying I’m gonna go fly that flag...but I’m not saying I’m not, either.’”
Although Luke errs on the side of remaining diplomatic, he’s glad to see that conversations surrounding race and equality are taking place in country music.
“It’s a delicate conversation, and do I think we may take a little longer in country to have it? Probably,” he adds. “But it’s the conversation we’re having more and more.”
By Carena Liptak
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