Independence Day 2020 found much of the United States exhausted from the year's near-constant onslaught of hurdles. Singer Brantley Gilbert addressed the climate movingly on PBS' televised A Capitol Fourth special on July 4, performing an affecting rendition of his most recent single, "Hard Days."

Gilbert's song urges listeners to see another side of the darkness: "If you never had hard days / If you never had a heart break / Never had more than you can take or carried the weight of light on your shoulders / Would you feel like you earned it? / Would you live with a purpose or ever known your own strength?" he asks.

The track, which Gilbert says is "about hope and healing," took on an almost eerie poignancy as he dropped his usual bombastic, rocking style and sang the song quietly and with restraint, standing alone, with just his microphone in the shot. The broadcast chose to intersperse images of famous American civil and social moments into the performance, including 1936's Migrant Mother, U.S. soldiers of all races serving duty, the Tribute of Light and the bruised and exhausted faces of frontline workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

PBS' Fourth of July special is the country's longest-running live televised broadcast. In 2020, it also included performances from Lauren AlainaLuke CombsJimmy Buffett, the Beach Boys, Pentatonix, the Temptations and CeCe Winans. Actor John Stamos served as host for the show, which was filmed live on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

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