Don McLean has dropped out of the National Rifle Association convention in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting — and other performers have followed.
“In light of the recent events in Texas, I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform for the NRA at their convention in Houston this week,” the “American Pie” singer, 76, told Yahoo Entertainment in a statement. “I’m sure all the folks planning to attend this event are shocked and sickened by these events as well. After all, we are all Americans.”
He added, “I share the sorrow for this terrible, cruel loss with the rest of the nation.
The event runs Friday through Sunday at the George R. Brown convention center. McLean was among the scheduled performers at Saturday’s Grand Ole Night of Freedom concert also including Lee Greenwood, Larry Gatlin, Restless Heart’s Larry Stewart and T. Graham Brown.
Gatlin, Stewart, Greenwood and Brown have since announced they also won’t appear. The only artist still scheduled to perform is singer Jacob Bryant.
In a statement posted to social media, Gatlin said, “I cannot, in good conscience, perform at the NRA convention in Houston this weekend. While I agree with most of the positions held by the NRA, I have come to believe that, while background checks would not stop every madman with a gun, it is at the very least a step in the right direction toward trying to prevent the kind of tragedy we saw this week in Uvalde — in my beloved, weeping TEXAS.”
Stewart said in his statement, “Due to the tragedy in Uvalde with the horrific school shooting and children who died, I want to honor the victims, families, the town and our friends in the great state of Texas the best I know how. So I have made the decision to pull out as a performer for the NRA convention this weekend, especially given the event is just down the road. I’m a strong believer in the 2nd Amendment and I know the NRA is a great organization who teaches strict gun safety with a membership of law-abiding citizens who love our country. I just believe this is best for me at this time. God Bless everyone involved!”
Brown said he and his wife, Sheila, “grieve with the families, city of Uvalde, the state of Texas, and our nation. We are very sensitive to the feelings of the good people who lost loved ones, therefore I am opting out of the concert in Houston on Saturday. I believe that the families are deserving of time to grieve. It is a sad week for everyone. May God bless us all as we seek answers.”
Greenwood said, “As a father, I join the rest of America in being absolutely heartbroken by the horrific event that transpired this week in Texas. I was scheduled to perform at NRA’s private event on Saturday with my band. After thoughtful consideration, we have decided to cancel the appearance out of respect for those mourning the loss of those innocent children and teachers in Uvalde.”
Former president Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are scheduled to appear at the controversial organization’s event, being held about 280 miles from the scene of the horrific school shooting.
Despite calls for the event to be moved out of Texas or canceled after the school shooting, Trump said on Wednesday, “America needs real solutions and real leadership in this moment, not politicians and partisanship. That’s why I will keep my longtime commitment to speak in Texas at the NRA Convention and deliver an important address to America.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was supposed to be there in-person. He canceled on Thursday, but his pre-recorded video message will be played at the event.
On Tuesday, an 18 year old entered the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde and fatally shot 19 fourth graders and two teachers. His rampage began earlier when he shot his grandmother.
The shooter legally purchased an AR-15 style rifle on May 17 — one day after he turned 18. On May 18, he purchased 375 rounds of ammunition, and on May 20, he purchased a second rifle.