Millions of people were first aware of Lee Greenwood when President Donald Trump used his smash hit, ''God Bless the U.S.A.'' as his walk-on music. But Greenwood has been a star for decades, with seven No. 1 songs and 25 charted singles.
He won Male Vocalist of the Year from the Academy of Country Music in 1983, two Male Vocalist of the Year awards from the Country Music Association in 1983 and 1984 and a Grammy for Top Male Vocal Performance in 1985 for ''I.O.U.'' The CMA also named ''God Bless the U.S.A.'' its Song of the Year in 1985.
In 2012, Greenwood released an illustrated children's book, ''Does God Still Bless the U.S.A.,'' ranking No. 1 on many bestsellers lists. It features a 30-day calendar (''Prayers of a Patriot'') and two songs written by Greenwood, free for download: a new version of ''God Bless the U.S.A.,'' and a praise and worship song, ''Show Me the Way.''
Newsmax spoke to Greenwood by phone.
What are your latest projects?
I have several things. I was putting out a CD for 2020, 20 original songs. But with COVID, we weren't able to get into the studio with the musicians. So, I wrote another song and now it will be 21 songs for 2021! It will be all originals. I started out as a musician, first with piano, then woodwinds and percussion. So, I'll be playing sax on it. Also, it will have many genres. I started out at the age of 16, playing USO shows in California. There will be rhythm and blues, jazz. I started out playing at the First Baptist Church, so there will be gospel and rock — I was in Las Vegas for 20 years, I went there when I was 17. The CD will come out in the spring.
In October, in Huntsville, Alabama, at the Von Braun Center, there's going to be a live country show. It'll be on Tuesday, Oct. 12, so hopefully that will make it easy for everyone to come. It's about an hour and a half from Nashville. It's going to be 40 stars covering my songs from the past 40 years! It's already half sold out, so people should get their tickets now.
(So far, the lineup includes Big & Rich, Crystal Gayle, Dustin Lynch, Home Free, Jamey Johnson, Lee Brice, Michael Ray, Mark Wills, Michael W. Smith, Randy Owen [of Alabama], Riley Green, Sam Moore, The Oak Ridge Boys, Tracy Byrd, The Frontmen of Country, Larry Stewart [of Restless Heart], Richie McDonald [formerly of Lonestar], and Tim Rushlow [formerly of Little Texas]).
How has performing/touring changed for you since the pandemic?
It's changed a lot. I only did 20 shows in 2020. People are a little scared still to travel, sit shoulder to shoulder. Entertainment will probably be the last business sector to be brought back.
You seem to have a close personal connection to President Trump. Did you have one before he chose your song as a walk-on for campaigns or how did that come about?
I've worked with six different presidents. My wife was a Miss Tennessee USA and runs the Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi USA pageants; she knows him. Of course, he sold Miss Universe when he became president. I'm still a member of the National Endowment of the Arts and was appointed to the Board of the Kennedy Center by President Trump.
Some people associated with the former president, such as Mike Lindell, have suffered a lot of pushback. Have you experienced any?
No. I've performed for 10 different presidents, both sides of the aisle. I hope for unity and, of course, I wish the very best for the current administration.
There's a big push with audiophiles to get back to 180-gram, pristine quality vinyl records. Do you have any plans to put something out like that in the future?
Well, yes. I have two brand new albums on Spotify, including a Christmas album. Those are not yet on vinyl. But Universal has decided to release an album with "God Bless the U.S.A." on red, white and blue vinyl! It'll be out this summer, I hope in time for the Fourth of July.
One of Charlie Daniels' last tweets [''Thank you Lee Greenwood for expressing the heartfelt feelings of so many of us. PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN! GOD BLESS THE USA!''] was to thank you. Were you close friends?
We were very close friends. He lived in Mount Juliet, about 40 minutes away. That's where my in-laws lived, my mother-in-law sadly died this year, but my father-in-law still lives there. We went to his [Daniels'] funeral. We sometimes socialized at his home, but we did most of our socializing on the road or at truck stops, getting on the bus and catching up on music.
Tamar Alexia Fleishman was the youngest girl violinist to solo with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Having traveled the world, Tamar shares flavors, history, arts and insightful interviews with fascinating folks from all walks of life. She's held her own on TV with celebrities like Bill Maher, Greta Van Susteren, Dr. Phil and Peter Frampton. Tamar has a B.A. in Political Science from Goucher College and a J.D. from the University of Baltimore. She is a practicing member of the Maryland Bar and a Kentucky Colonel. Read Tamar Alexia Fleishman's Reports — More Here.
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