It was quite a contentious couple of weeks. The 2016 CMA Awards transpired right when the United States was getting swept up in the apex of political fervor a week ahead of the Presidential election, and here come the CMA Awards parading out Beyoncé as the centerpiece of their performance lineup. And when the criticisms began to flood in, Beyoncé’s notorious “Beyhive” got swarming, and accusations of racism were strewn about, covering anyone who dare question why a pop star was slotted on a country awards show.
Chief among the critics of Beyoncé was Travis Tritt, who said in a series of tweets on November 3rd, “As I see it, country music has appealed to millions for many years. We can stand on our own and don’t need pop artists on our awards shows. I love honest to God country music and feel the need to stand up for it at all costs. We don’t need pop or rap artists to validate us.”
Earlier Tritt had made some other digs at the Beyoncé decision. “Thanks to everyone who came out to see us in Bowling Green, KY tonight. Sorry we weren’t able to do any Beyoncé for all the country fans,” he said. “FYI – My band and I are gonna try to work up Beyoncé’s “All The Single Ladies” for all you die hard country fans who love traditional music!”
Tritt was accused of racism, and specifically—and doggedly—because he had not criticized other pop performers who had performed on the awards show previous, even though this was flatly untrue.
In a recent interview with NASH Country Daily, Travis Tritt doubled down on his criticisms of the Beyonce booking by the CMA’s, and clarified his position.
“It wasn’t so much about just Beyoncé. This is a complaint that I’ve heard for a long time, actually for decades,” Tritt says. “Every year the CMA television producers feel a need to bring in acts from other genres, and it’s always done to boost ratings. I understand the concept behind that but at the same time I’ve always found it a little bit insulting … we’ve certainly become strong enough to stand on our own two feet without the help from outside sources. I’ve been complaining about this for years, and it’s funny to me that it took complaining about this year’s performance, before anybody paid any attention to it.”
As for how race got worked into the equation, Tritt says,
“That was done by the people who picked the story up from Twitter—from my Twitter feed. Some of the people in the media twisted it completely around. First of all, they said that I trashed Beyoncé, which I never did. I never made a statement saying anything bad about her personally. All I said was that her performance—in my humble opinion—her performance as well as any of the other performances that have been on from the pop world, including Arianna Grande, Meghan Trainor, Justin Timberlake or whoever, do not belong … especially on a country music show that was a 50-year celebration.”
Tritt goes on to say,
“It has frustrated me for years … that for every pop performance or R&B performance or any other type of genre performance that you have on the CMA Awards, that takes time away from somebody who is a country music artist, doing country music songs, releasing country music singles to radio, selling country music under that moniker to people all across the country and across the world … There are other artists that could have been just as much of a draw and that really should have been involved in that slot to celebrate the music that they have helped to create. So many great country music artists that you can name that weren’t part of it because there is only so much time—I get that, I understand that and everybody else does too. But when you take a portion of that precious time and give it to an artist outside of our industry, it makes no sense.”
Travis Tritt was not the only country artist concerned about the Beyoncé performance. Reports say that Alan Jackson walked out while Beyonce was performing.
Travis Tritt just released a new acoustic live album called A Man and His Guitar.