The Country Music Association managed to piss off almost everyone at this year's CMA Awards, held live on November 11 and broadcast on ABC from Nashville's Music City Center. Consequence of Sound called it "an absolute shit show."
In addition to complaints about staging the mostly mask-free event at all during the pandemic and the lack of diversity among the nominess in the 12 categories (there was just one Black performer nominated), several musicians were particularly irked by the CMAs' refusal to pay tribute to or at least acknowledge the recent passings of John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker, Billy Joe Shaver and others. Meanwhile, the show hailed Kenny Rogers, Charlie Daniels, Mac Davis and Joe Diffie, who also died in 2020, with special segments.
In response, husband and wife team Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires renounced their CMA memberships. "I doubt anybody will car, but we care about our heroes," Isbell tweeted.
In a since deleted video posted at Instagram, Sturgill Simpson went off on the CMAs:
“Two seconds. That’s all it would’ve took. Two seconds. Literally, two syllables: John. Prine. That’s it… nope.”
As co-host Darius Rucker performed, he caustically commented, "All the time in the world for this shit?”
Simpson added this text to the post:
“Don’t get it twisted... wouldn’t be caught dead at this tacky ass glitter and botox cake & cock pony show even if my chair had a morphine drip... I just wanted to see if they would say his name but nope. No time for Buddha… and I promise you they were asked to include him so a ‘nope, no time’ decision was made by somebody…”
That's true. Prine's label Oh Boy Records was informed by the CMAs the day before that he would be excluded from the show. Prine passed away from Covid-19 on April 7. He's famous in cannabis circles for his 1970 song, "Illegal Smile."
There should be room on the CMAs stage for less traditional artists like Prine, Walker, Shavers, Isbell, Shires and Simpson.
For their part, the CMAs said they don't have an "In Memorium" segment built into the show. It's time they make room for all the heroes.