Inauguration 2021: Garth Brooks Addresses Controversial COVID Concerns After Hugging Former Presidents

Garth Brooks performed during President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris' swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday, Jan. 20, singing "Amazing Grace." While the event was much smaller than previous inaugurations due to the coronavirus pandemic, several former presidents were in attendance including Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

After his performance, Brooks, who was not wearing a mask because he was just singing, offered handshakes and hugs to Biden and Harris as well as all of the former presidents and first ladies in the audience, a move that prompted some concern on Twitter. Carson Daly shared on the Today show on Thursday morning that Brooks "told us he was tested daily leading up to the event and was negative each time."

Brooks previously performed at Obama's inauguration in 2009 and has sung in some capacity for every president since Jimmy Carter with the exception of Ronald Reagan. He was invited to perform during Donald Trump's inauguration but declined due to an already-scheduled tour date. "Try to remember the invitation that I accepted before and accepting now is the President of the United States," he said in a press conference on Monday. "That's it. It's not Republican or Democrat. It's a leader for whom I am a civilian of the greatest country on the planet. It is our leader."

The country star added that his performance during Biden's inauguration "is not a political statement, this is a statement of unity." "This is history and it's an honor to get to serve," he explained. "This is kind of how I get to serve this country. Our father served as a United States Marine in the Korean War, we had brothers who served in the Air Force and the Army. This is my chance to get to serve. And it's been an honor."

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Brooks was invited to perform on Wednesday by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who the singer described as "very sweet" and "very much like a mom." "I just feel lucky to get to be part of this and what the administration right now is pushing, the main message they're pushing is unity," he said. "That's right down my alley man, because I think if we're going to get anywhere, we're going to get there together."

He further expounded on his belief in the importance of unity by encouraging people to listen to their fellow Americans, even those who have a different opinion. "We're more divided than ever, so that bridge that brings us together... I might be the only Republican at this place, but it's reaching across, loving one another because that's what's going to get us through probably the most divided times that we have," he said. "I want the divided times to be behind us. I want to be able to differ in opinion and hug each other at the same football game."