The singer's controversial hit "Rich Men North of Richmond" has been praised by the right and criticized by the left
Viral country artist Oliver Anthony has given his first on-camera interview.
After breaking out with the single “Rich Men North of Richmond,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Hot 100 this week and has caused controversy for its political lyrics, the country singer has spoken out about his own views.
The singer-songwriter (whose real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford) spoke to Fox News at his concert in North Carolina on Saturday. In the interview, which was released on Monday, the Farmville, Virginia singer and former factory worker explained that he hopes his music brings people together, as opposed to driving them apart.
When asked what he hopes people get from his music, Anthony said, “Just people to start appreciating each other for human beings and look beyond political differences and ideology, and a lot of things that I see corporate media and education doing, which is making everyone identify each other’s differences and not their similarities.”
He continued, “I want people to appreciate each other and appreciate each other’s struggles, and hopefully just find the energy that was in the song and manifest it in people’s own personalities — just try to find similarities with each other instead of divisions.”
The singer, who told Fox News that he doesn’t identify as either a Democrat or Republican, also expressed how much he values “diversity.”
“I don’t see our country lasting more than another generation the way we’re headed. We’ve got to go back to the roots of what made this country great in the first place, which was our sense of community,” the singer said. “We are the melting pot of the world and that’s what makes us strong, is our diversity. We need to harness that and appreciate it and not use it as a political tool to keep everyone separate from each other.”
“Rich Men North of Richmond,” has been embraced by the right and criticized by the left for its lyrics about socio-political issues, with lines like, “your dollar taxed to no end ’cause of rich men north of Richmond,” and “the obese milkin’ welfare.”
Although, when Fox News asked Anthony if he feels as if his music represents the working class, he said, “Hopefully it represents more than just the working class.”
“This is something that has touched people globally and there’s a reason for that. It’s not just for one identity or one group of people. It’s a song for human beings in general,” Anthony added.
The country artist also shared why he thinks “Rich Men North of Richmond” has taken off in the way that it has. “It resonates with the suffering in the world right now. Like, even in our own country, we’ve had years of people feeling depressed and hopeless and every time you look at the TV or get online, everything’s negative, so I think people are just desperate for something positive again,” the singer said. “There’s been a lot of people [who] died to stand on this dirt and do what we do every day. We should be excited for it.”
At one point, he also shared, “Really what I believe is that God put this message out there for people just to give them some hope.”
After clips of the Fox News interview were widely shared across social media, right-wing fans who previously championed the breakout artist have retracted their support.
Oliver Anthony: “We are the melting pot of the world and that’s what makes us strong, our diversity”
Such a let down. Did he sell out already to the rich men north of Richmond? pic.twitter.com/UkT6Ex4EAD
— iamyesyouareno (@iamyesyouareno) August 22, 2023
In one post on X (formerly known as Twitter), a listener wrote, “Oliver Anthony: ‘We are the melting pot of the world and that’s what makes us strong, our diversity’ Such a let down. Did he sell out already to the rich men north of Richmond?”
The country music sensation became a near overnight success after “Rich Men North of Richmond” was officially released on Aug. 11, after it first found an audience on a country music discovery channel on YouTube and TikTok.
Anthony previously spoke out about his views in a video he uploaded to his YouTube channel, saying, “I sit pretty dead center down the aisle on politics and always have.”
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
After going viral, he also shared a lengthy statement on Facebook. “I am sad to see the world in the state it's in, with everyone fighting with each other. I have spent many nights feeling hopeless, that the greatest country on Earth is quickly fading away,” the singer wrote. “That being said, I HATE the way the Internet has divided all of us. The Internet is a parasite, that infects the minds of humans and has their way with them.”
Amid his success, Anthony also dropped the music video for his song “I Want to Go Home” on Tuesday.
“Son, we're on the brink of the next world war / And I don't think nobody's prayin' no more / And I ain't sayin I know it for sure / I'm just down on my knees / Beggin', Lord, take me home / I wanna go home,” he sings on the track.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.