The CMA Awards is one of the biggest celebrations in country music. But the award ceremony isn’t without controversy. Though the event was promised to be upbeat and light, even this year’s ceremony garnered controversy. Over the past few decades, there have been a few headscratchers.
Take a look back at the CMA Awards’ most controversial moments.
The CMA Awards Forgets Several Late Music Icons
Several musicians protested the omission including Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell. In response, Isbell and his wife returned their CMA membership cards in protest.
“Two seconds, that’s all it would’ve took. Two seconds,” Simpson said. “Literally two syllables. John Prine. That’s it. Nope. Got all the time in the world for this s–t.”
Carrie Underwood Doesn’t Win CMA Entertainer of the Year
Miranda Lambert still hasn’t forgiven the CMA for their transgression.
“I think last year was bulls–t and that Carrie Underwood should have taken it,” Lambert told the LA Times. “I’m still a little bit grudge-y about it. Although I love Garth—he was my first concert when I was ten years old—there’s times and places for things, and I just felt like it was the wrong thing. But this year, I’m excited because I feel like it’s the way that it should be. And maybe that’s because he pulled out of it; I don’t know. But I think everyone in the category deserves to be there.”
Alan Jackson Defends George Jones with a Song
This year’s CMA Awards wasn’t the first time country music defended their legends at the ceremony. In 1999, Alan Jackson came to the rescue of George Jones when he felt Jones wasn’t given enough recognition at the awards show. The CMA gave Jones only a minute of stage time to play his song “Choices,” which had been nominated that year.
In defense, Jackson changed from his own song “Pop a Top” to Jones’ tune during the middle of his performance. Jackson’s performance had the whole audience standing in awe.
Reba McEntire Draws Eyes with Her Infamous Red Dress
“It was very revealing, and I didn’t know that! I had only had two fittings with [designer] Sandy Spika — one was at our office, and I said, ‘I think you need to fill some more stuff in!’” McEntire told People. “When I put it on in the dressing room at the Grand Ole Opry for the show, I thought, ‘Maybe it’s just the lighting in here.’ And when I walked out on the stage, I heard the audience go ‘Oooooh!’ And I thought, ‘Dang, I look good!’”
Charlie Rich Burns John Denver’s Nomination Card
On stage, Rich reached into his pocket, produced a cigarette lighter, and burned the card in protest. Denver, who couldn’t attend, wasn’t even aware the incident occurred at the time. For his actions, Rich was barred from attending future CMA Awards.