Country music legend Toby Keith has sadly passed away at the age of 62, leaving behind a lengthy legacy after his battle with stomach cancer. Notably, Keith was credited for helping kickstart the career of Taylor Swift, who has remained silent in the wake of Keith’s death, prompting criticism from country music star John Rich.
Rich took to social media to call out Swift for her silence. In a tweet, Rich questioned why Swift had not publicly paid tribute to Keith, the man who had discovered her and gave her her start in the music industry. His tweets were in response to journalist Matt Couch sharing a 2005 video where Swift gushed over Keith after he signed her to his record label. Swift was clearly in awe of Keith, saying, “You’re in the room and you can feel it. There’s a power there.”
This lack of recognition of Keith following his death has led many critics to suggest that Swift’s silence could be motivated by politics. Keith performed at the 2017 inauguration of Donald Trump and has publicly supported the former president, even receiving the National Medal of Arts from him. This stands in stark contrast to Swift, who has passionately campaigned for Joe Biden in 2020 and has frequently used her platform to bash Trump.
It’s clear that Swift has a history of openly criticizing Trump, once accusing him of “stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism” in response to comments he made condemning the violence that spread throughout the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd. She campaigned for Trump’s removal from office, with a clear political agenda.
This discrepancy between Swift and Keith’s political affiliations has left many scratching their heads and questioning Swift’s silence following Keith’s death. Some critics argue that it is anything but surprising given Swift’s vocalness of political leanings that conflict with Keith’s.
The late Keith played a pivotal role in Swift’s career, being one of the major figures who helped her break into the music industry. With this in mind, it is not only surprising but somewhat troubling that Swift has not acknowledged Keith’s passing in any way.
Ultimately, the commentary surrounding Swift’s silence on Keith’s death is complex, and clearly intertwines celebrity and politics. While there is no confirmation that this silence is explicitly political, it is clear that it has raised eyebrows and prompted much criticism from those who believe it is the least she can do to honor someone who helped her achieve so much.
It should be a time to remember the impact Keith had and appreciate the legacy he left behind. It is equally important to acknowledge that respect should be given regardless of personal and political differences.