Heard on the Hill

Wynonna Judd Rips Her Backup Singers During Grammys on the Hill

But Trump was ripped the most over proposed art funding cuts

Wynonna Judd was joined on stage by members of Congress. (Alex Gangitano/ CQ Roll Call)

Just when you thought the American public was the hardest on politicians, country singer Wynonna Judd took the cake.

“Loosen up your ties,” the singer said. “Come on, big babies.”

Judd invited the roughly 60 lawmakers who attended the annual Grammys on the Hill Awards to sing with her on Wednesday.

 “Congress needs more cowbell,” she said.

When the dozens finally walked up, she gave them all grief for not knowing the words to her songs.

She kicked Rhode Island Democratic Rep. David Cicilline out from the front and pulled up Democratic Reps. Katherine M. Clark of Massachusetts and Cheri Bustos of Illinois because the two knew the words to her song “No One Else on Earth.”

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Once the song was over, she told Cicilline, “Google me, I’m actually really famous.”

The Recording Academy’s Grammys on the Hill is an event to push for representation and compensation for music creators ahead of a lobbying day on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Members Dance, Sing with Wynonna Judd at ‘Grammys on the Hill’

This year, the music creators will also focus their advocacy efforts on maintaining government support for the arts. 

Sens. Tom Udall and Susan Collins were honored at Wednesday’s ceremony for their support of music programs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

New Mexico Sen. <a class="memberLink" title="Click to view member info in a new window" href="http://data.rollcall.com/members/332?rel=memberLink" target="_blank">Tom Udall</a> on Wednesday criticized President Donald Trump's proposed cuts to arts programs. (Alex Gangitano/ CQ Roll Call)
New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall on Wednesday criticized President Donald Trump's proposed cuts to arts programs. (Alex Gangitano/ CQ Roll Call)

“As a boy, I totally failed my piano lessons. I couldn’t compose a song if it saved my life, and I’m here getting a Grammy,” said Udall, a New Mexico Democrat.

He then took the opportunity to push against President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to arts programs.

“The purpose of the government is to provide for the public good. The arts are a public good,” he said.

Udall said the National Endowment for the Arts is “under attack” by Trump.

Trump’s proposed cuts are “to send a message to the American people on what he thinks is important,” he said to applause from the audience. “Support for the arts isn’t red or blue. It’s right where we need to be.”

Maine Sen. <a class="memberLink" title="Click to view member info in a new window" href="http://data.rollcall.com/members/239?rel=memberLink" target="_blank">Susan Collins</a> said she sings Christmas carols with her family every Christmas Eve. (Alex Gangitano/ CQ Roll Call)
Maine Sen. Susan Collins said she sings Christmas carols with her family every Christmas Eve. (Alex Gangitano/ CQ Roll Call)

When Collins received her award, she also said she took piano lessons from age 4 to 18.

“But don’t ask me to go over to that keyboard now,” the Maine Republican said.

Collins spoke of her love of music.

“A tradition in my family is on Christmas Eve, we always sing all the Christmas carols,” she said. “I just can’t imagine life without the music that you produce.”

“I want to thank you so much for all that you do to enrich our lives, as well as our economy,” she said.

Country singer Keith Urban received the Recording Artists’ Coalition Award for his music and his work on music education programs. He had the final performance of the evening and sang his hit songs “Blue” and “Wasted Time.”

“Music has a profound need and requirement in kids’ lives … to take that out [of schools], for musicians, is like taking reading out,” Urban said after receiving his award.

John Popper of Blues Traveler joined him on stage and played the harmonica to wrap up the evening. But, he apparently broke the instrument during the duet and threw it down to Florida Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch.

Keith Urban, left, and John Popper performed together Wednesday night. (Alex Gangitano/ CQ Roll Call)
Keith Urban, left, and John Popper performed together Wednesday night. (Alex Gangitano/ CQ Roll Call)

The evening’s host was country singer Martina McBride, and Popper played the national anthem. Also in attendance was rapper Luther Campbell, who was involved in a Supreme Court copyright law case in 1994 over parody songs.

At one point, McBride spoke about Reps. Beto O’Rourke and Will Hurd’s bipartisan road trip from their home state of Texas to the Capitol in March. She mentioned how important music was on their trip, which is accurate, and played a clip of them listening to Johnny Cash.

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“These congressmen may have different voting records [on] the issues of the day, but when it comes to the man in black, there can be no argument,” McBride said.

Jonathan Wolff, television show composer, who was the brains behind the “Seinfeld” and “Will and Grace” opening theme songs, spoke of his experiences. He said he was seated next to California Democratic Rep. Judy Chu during the dinner portion.

Other members in attendance were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Sen. Jim Risch and Reps. Diane Black, Lois Frankel, Joseph Crowley, Scott Tipton, among others.

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