“Hail to the Heroes” is coming up quick, and we’d like to introduce you to the concert’s headliner, country icon Lee Greenwood. Greenwood’s initial rise to fame came with the release of his patriotic anthem “God Bless the USA,” which was originally released in 1984 and became popular again after 9/11. Active since 1962, he has released more than 20 major-label albums and has charted more than 35 singles on the Billboard country music charts. However, Greenwood is more than just a country star.
Greenwood was born in South Gate, Calif., just a few miles south of Los Angeles, and eventually moved to Sacramento to live with his grandparents. He began to sing in the local church, building up his vocal chops enough to join a country band for his first television appearance. After building a reputation as a local artist, Greenwood took his talents to the casinos of Las Vegas, where he was a blackjack dealer during the day, moonlighting as a performer.
His hit single “God Bless the USA” is one of 50 songs that were chosen by NPR to be featured in their American Anthems series. The series focuses on the stories behind the songs, and how they “challenge, unite and celebrate” our American cultural experience throughout history. Greenwood discussed the song’s origin in a recent statement:
As I stated in my song, “God Bless the USA,” “There ain’t no doubt I love this land.” My love of the land came from being raised on a farm in California and singing for USO shows while I was still in high school. … I’m honored this song is still being shared today, and more importantly, being recognized as a song which unites, because that is exactly the reason why I wrote it.
More than just a country star, Greenwood has become an American cultural icon, immersing himself in our country’s history. He wrote a blog post about his time with President Bush (41) on his website—a touching story on his travels with the former Commander-in-Chief and his wife.
President and Mrs. Bush invited me to stay overnight at the White House where I slept in the Lincoln bedroom but never actually slept. The President and I watched “Lawrence of Arabia” in the theater room with just the President and I—played several songs on piano for him in the foyer. Then I stayed up all night reading the Gettysburg Address.
I had the great privilege of traveling across this great nation with President Bush 41. Our time as friends took us from the White House to Camp David—which included Air Force One—to inaugurating the Points of Light Foundation at Disney World, to the opening of my theater in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, to Houston, Kennebunkport and every place where proud Americans reside. He was the best man, most generous patriot, and greatest friend a man could ask for.
In an article about his July 4 appearance at the San Diego County Fair, Greenwood also touches on this unique time in our country’s history, and how he hopes his music can be a unifying force.
“We are experiencing an extremely divided time right now, here in America. Regardless of politics, my hope is that the music I am sharing on this tour will help unite everyone—together—around this country we all love so much.”
We hope that you’ll join us for “Hail to the Heroes” Sept. 8, where we can all gather together to celebrate our veterans and first responders, the brave heroes who make our communities and this country truly great. Remember, there are FREE tickets for active-duty military, veterans and first responders! Call our Box Office at (714) 755-5799.