A relationship took a turn for the worst this week. That is the relationship between country musicians Jason Isbell and wife Amanda Shires and the Country Music Association. They have returned their lifetime membership cards with the organization.
The reason for the immediate separation from the organization?
According to Los Angeles Times, the two had “’decided to return our membership cards’ because the CMA Awards, as was widely noted online, hadn’t mentioned the recent deaths of John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver — three highly influential singer-songwriters whom Isbell referred to as ‘our heroes.’”
When asked about people in the Music City of Nashville, TN, Isbell blasted them for not wearing masks.
“It’s just political here. We’ve got people protesting their right to kill old people,” he said. “It’s not a good scene, and it speaks to the fact that we can’t even agree on the simplest truths right now. And I’m not one of these unity people who thinks the worst thing that could happen is we don’t remain unified as a country. I think the worst thing that could happen is we all become unified behind bad science. I would rather us remain divided until we collapse than have to agree with people who say this virus is not real. Because it’s killed my friends.”
Isbell and Shires Express Distaste
Furthermore, there was a failure to mention the cause of death of these artists.
“Everybody knows the answer to that question. What the Country Music Assn. pictures as the majority of their listeners are people who are on the side of the political aisle that doesn’t want to hear about COVID and tries to pretend that it’s not real. They want to stay away from offending those people, and it’s causing the whole system to become a laughingstock to every other type of music in the world,” Isbell said to Los Angeles Times.
For many people, their favorite artist’s standpoints mean a lot. It can help direct their own decisions, Isbell feels.
“They had a huge opportunity to actually do something that would help their listeners’ health by taking this seriously and discussing it in a serious way and giving examples of how their favorite country stars were being safe and not denying the fact that the virus is real,” Isbell said.
For country’s largely rural audience, Shires thinks the CMAs especially missed an opportunity.
“They’re being poor examples, where you could be a good role model for people in rural areas through TV. Major misstep,” Shires also said.
Other Artists Express Disappointment
The two artists are not alone in their disappointment for the CMAs. Other artists also took issue with the CMA’s lack of acknowledgment of COVID-19 and icons that died from it.
Artist Sturgill Simpson also called out the show as well for not mentioning Prine.
Sturgill called out the show on Instagram (the post has since been deleted) for their failure to mention Prine.
“Don’t get it twisted…wouldn’t be caught dead at this tacky a– glitter and botox cake…pony show even if my chair had a morphine drip,” Simpson captioned the since-deleted post. “I just wanted to see if they would say his name but nope.”
Another country artist Margo Price also criticized the CMAs in a tweet accusing them of “white washing” their show and being a “socially unconscious pawn.”