Gretchen Wilson, Bill Engvall Added to Controversial SeaWorld Concert Series

By Kurt Wolff

After several high-profile artists backed out of planned performances at SeaWorld, others are now stepping in. Last week, Alan Jackson and Kid Rock announced they would play the Bands, Brew & BBQ concert series  — and they did so, each performing this past weekend (Feb. 1 and 2) at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.

Now SeaWorld has unveiled that singer Gretchen Wilson and comedian Bill Engvall have now signed up to perform as part of the series. Wilson appears this Saturday (Feb. 8) and Engvall the following day.

The event is supposed to feature weekend performances through March 9, though no additional artists are listed. The Orlando Sentinel writes that additional names are not being revealed until “a few days before they are scheduled to perform” in order to “insulate” them from the “pressure” of animal rights groups and others who urged artists to cancel appearances late last year.

Related: Martina McBride, Others Back Out of SeaWorld Performances

The controversy began when a string of artists, including Martina McBride, Willie Nelson, Trace AdkinsJoan Jett and Trisha Yearwood, pulled out of scheduled performances in response to the recently released documentary Blackfish. The film follows the life in captivity of an orca (a.k.a. ‘killer whale’) named Tilikum that attacked and killed trainer Dawn Brancheau and two others in three separate instances. The film suggests that it was Tilikum’s life in captivity that caused the whale’s aggression.

“I don’t agree with the way they treat their animals,” Nelson told CNN regarding SeaWorld. “It wasn’t that hard a deal for me.”

SeaWorld has responded aggressively to the accusations with a series of newspaper ads and press statements, the most recent of which calls the film Blackfish “propaganda” and claims it “conveys falsehoods, manipulates viewers emotionally, and relies on questionable filmmaking techniques to create ‘facts’ that support its point of view.”


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