In The Know

Garth Brooks accepts Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Shawn Miller, Library of Congress

Garth Brooks marveled at how many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were singing along to his hits as he accepted the Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song at a tribute concert on Wednesday in Washington.

“I hope this doesn’t offend you,” Brooks quipped to the audience from the stage at DAR Constitution Hall, “but boy, I never thought I’d see unity like this in this crowd!”

The award is the Library of Congress’s most prestigious honor, given to artists who promote the “genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding, entertaining and informing audiences, and inspiring new generations of musicians.”

Standing beside the 58-year-old country music legend as he accepted it was a bipartisan congressional show of force: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.), Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

Before accepting the award, Brooks chatted with ITK about his own recent politics-related snafu.

Many fans went haywire when the “Friends in Low Places” singer was eyed wearing a jersey with “Sanders 20” on it at a concert last month in Detroit. Some mistakenly believed the get-up was a show of support for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) 2020 White House bid, when it was actually an ode to former Detroit Lions player Barry Sanders.

“There was a lot of noise” following the flap, a grinning Brooks said, “but then all of the sudden Barry Sanders — one of the greatest athletes, greatest human beings in the world — goes, ‘Hey Garth, you want to be my running mate?’ ”

Brooks — who’s largely stayed mum on his political preferences — called the Sanders mix-up “so much fun.”

But would he actually consider a real political run?

“No!” he exclaimed with a laugh.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden told ITK that even in politically divisive times, the selection of Brooks as the newest recipient of the Gershwin Prize was a no-brainer.

“Garth Brooks has proven that he’s a person who’s a unifier,” Hayden said, “and he uses music to bring people together.”

Brooks also brought a who’s who of country music to the nation’s capital to help celebrate his career: his wife, country music star Trisha Yearwood, Keith Urban, Ricky Skaggs, Chris Stapleton, Lee Brice, former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno and blues musician Keb’ Mo’.

Among the members of Congress spotted at the event: McCarthy and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) chatting with Skaggs; Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) joining in a standing ovation after Brooks and Urban opened the concert with a spirited duet of “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)” and Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) tapping his hand and head along to the beat as Chris Stapleton belted out “Rodeo.”

The Gershwin Prize concert will air as a TV special on PBS stations on March 29.

Tags Bernie Sanders Garth Brooks Gershwin Prize Jim Jordan Kevin McCarthy Library of Congress Nancy Pelosi Pat Roberts Patrick Leahy Rodney Davis Roy Blunt Steny Hoyer Steve Scalise Will Hurd
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