Jason Aldean, the country music superstar known for his hit song “Try That in a Small Town,” which became a culture war flashpoint in 2023, recently discussed how Toby Keith inspired him to always speak his mind, even if it wasn’t the “popular opinion.” Keith, renowned for his pro-America stance, passed away from stomach cancer in February 2024.

Aldean told Fox News Digital ahead of the upcoming 2024 Academy of Country Music Awards that Keith was someone many in the industry looked up to because he stood up for what he believed in. Aldean said, “I think Toby was a guy for a lot of us in the business – well, I’ll speak for myself. I think he was a guy that a lot of us looked up to.”

Continuing, he explained how he saw Keith as always willing to stand up for himself, even when it wasn’t popular. He said, “For me personally, he was a guy that I feel like … just always spoke his mind,” he added. “He said what he thought, whether it was the popular opinion or not. And it wasn’t, you know, it didn’t always go well for him, and he didn’t care.”

Building on that, Aldean emphasized that if there was something Keith felt strongly about or believed in, he would speak his mind on the subject, regardless of the consequences. He said, “I mean, it was something that if he felt strongly about it and felt like it was something he believed in, he was going to speak his mind.”

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“To me, from a personal level, that was something to me that was always inspiring, as far as like, ‘Hey, you can still be an artist and be true to who you are and go out and not be afraid to speak out.’ And I think that was something that always kind of stood with me,” the country star continued.

He added that the best advice he ever got from Keith was to never apologize for being patriotic, even when people don’t agree with it. He said, “Just being not afraid to speak your mind, stand up for what you believe in. Whether other people agree with it or not, be who you are and be unapologetic about it. And I think that’s pretty good advice.”

Aldean has faced significant backlash for expressing his unpopular opinions. For instance, he previously spoke to Fox News about why his song resonated with many, saying, “I just think there’s a lot of people out there that just want to go to work and come home, raise their kids, feel comfortable about sending their kids to school and knowing that they’re going to come home. Or let their kids go to a movie on a weekend and not worry about something crazy happening to them in the parking lot or inside a movie theater.”

“It’s just we’re kind of living in the Wild West right now, and I think people are just kind of tired of it. There’s just constant chaos and something going on. Somebody is always p—ed off about something, and it’s just one of those songs where there’s a lot of people that could relate to that because they’re just sick of it,” he added.

Disclaimer: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.