Three-time Grammy winner Ben Harper performed a free concert at the Iowa Brewing Company in Cedar Rapids Thursday afternoon to encourage voters to get out and support Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“It’s a sticky business — music and art and politics,” Harper said. “But you all know why I’m here.”
Harper spoke briefly to the audience, describing his great-grandmother who came to the country from Russia and his family business, a music store in Claremont, California.
“America has made my family what it is,” he said. “I’m basically a small business owner that made good on a few songs.”
Although his business just breaks even each year, Harper said he pays taxes, referencing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns and his statement during the second presidential debate that he avoided paying taxes for years.
“I can’t justify voting for somebody who doesn’t pay taxes,” he said.
He added that although Clinton is facing criticism for her use of a private server while secretary of state, “she had the humility to apologize. You’ve got to vote for somebody who takes a hit. Somebody who pays taxes. And that’s my rant. I’m out.”
Jai Westgard, of Iowa City, who attended the rally with her family, said she came out on Wednesday to see Harper play, but she has supported Clinton from the beginning.
“First and foremost, she’s a woman,” she said. “Second, she’s capable of leading. And she just has a progressive nature.”
Her son Sidney walked away with the singer’s signature scrawled across his T-shirt and a message: “Rock On!”
Strengthen • Grow • Evolve is a collaborative campaign led by two Iowa City-based arts nonprofits, The Englert Theatre and FilmScene that seeks a major reinvestment to strengthen the arts through modern and historic venues, innovative programming, and new models of collaboration.
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