In 1993, Garth Brooks and the Super Bowl would clash. It was like King Kong vs. Godzilla, with these two titans of American culture squaring off for all time. And ultimately, one side had to win. Country History X returns with a deep dive into this historic moment.
If all you have to prove country music’s intrinsic racism that is regularly cited in conversations and articles is the Lil Nas X anecdote, or the Beyoncé anecdote, or the Morgan Wallen story, then you really don’t have any proof at all.
Far and away, the best performance of the night was turned in by an artist entirely outside of the country music fold when Jennifer Hudson took the stage to sing Willie Nelson’s “Night Life,” leading into “You Are My Sunshine,” with assistance from Chris Stapleton on guitar.
Aretha Franklin, Ashley McBryde, Beyonce, Billy Strings, Brittney Spencer, Carly Pearce, Chris Stapleton, Emily Scott Robinson, Jason Eady, Jennifer Hudson, Justin Timberlake, Madeline Edwards, Mickey Guyton, MIke and the Moonpies, Miranda Lambert, Willie Nelson
Now let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here. But if you know anything about Alan Jackson and awards shows, you know he’s the ultimate wild card. He’s got no truck or patience for your pedantics, and dog and pony awards show nonsense.
Before the controversy over the removal of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” from the Billboard country charts would roil the country music world with accusations of racism and “black erasure,” it was Beyonce and her song “Daddy Lessons” from 2016 that had many outside of country hot and bothered.
When you hear certain albums from some of country music’s mainstream performers, it’s patently clear to large portions of the audience that these albums aren’t pop country, they’re just pop, period. But in the pop world when artist dabble in country influences, they tend to be more honest about how the end result is still pop.
Beyonce, Chris Stapleton, Chuck Leavell, Dolly Parton, Don Was, Greg Leisz, Hillary Lindsey, John Mayer, Justin Timberlake, Keith Urban, Kesha, Lady Gaga, Maren Morris, Miley Cyrus, Priscilla Renea, Sara Watkins, Taylor Swift, Walker Hayes
This is all especially concerning since Country Music USA is the basis of the new Ken Burns film on country music, which will reach a much wider audience than this final chapter, and like all Ken Burns films, be referenced by many generations to come as a master work of country music history.
There actually was an artist that was so clearly a victim of systemic bias and rigging of the system at the hands of the 2017 Grammy Awards, it’s almost shocking. And nobody is talking about it. In fact Beyoncé was one of the very reasons this particular artist got marginalized.
Sturgill Simpson is up for two major awards, and will also have one of only eight solo performance slots on the entire night. He will perform backed up by the famous horn section The Dap-Kings. Sturgill has to be considered the front runner for Best Country Album since he is also up for the all-genre Album of the Year, but nothing is assured.
The fact that the Grammy committee considered turning down ‘A Sailor’s Guide’ for Best Country Album shows how stringent the litmus test is for these country categories. This is important because of the controversy that erupted after it was revealed that Beyoncé’s song “Daddy Lessons” was turned down by the same committee for not being country enough.
These days, as country music continues to improve in the mainstream, and we’re seeing incredible support for independent country music like never before, one of the biggest issues emerging in country music is not bad artists making bad music. It is journalists and columnists of all people, who are using the forum of country music to forward political agendas.
Every single day we have young black men and women getting shot and dying face down in the streets, getting systematically denied housing, employment, education, and opportunity because of the color of their skin. And it is an atrocity that the attention and vehemence for these very real issues of racism is getting watered down…
“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 try and illustrate why it is important to keep the influences of America’s founding genres pure, I’ve always used one tried and true illustration. And to prove that this illustration precedes Beyonce at the CMA Awards, instead of presenting it anew here, I’ll transcribe it from a recent podcast from Wide Open Country.
Alan Jackson has been known throughout his career for putting his foot down for the integrity of country music, regardless of the ramifications. That’s what happened at the 1994 ACM Awards when Jackson instructed his drummer to play without sticks when the producers insisted his band mimic playing to a backing track.
Nearly a week removed from the 2016 CMA Awards, and what are we still talking about? We’re not talking to each other at all. We’re shouting. We’re yelling. We’re digging into our predisposed positioning stances and blaming the other side. We’re not discussing the music.
“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,” Tritt said in a series of tweets on November 3rd. “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.”
I told you booking Beyoncé was a bad idea CMA’s. Now you’re a racist reprobate in the eyes of the politically-charged Millennial entertainment media and sycophantical pop diva worshipers who will nail people to crosses to prove the depth of their fanaticism, and so is all of country music and its bumpkin fans.
All of a sudden what felt like a massive event a few weeks ago now feels deflating, while there is a very real concern that low ratings will be translated by the CMA’s as a sign that nobody wants to see the older performers they booked. Ironically, the Beyonce announcement will seal the deal for many older country fans to change the dial.
In a society where everyone is aggressively on the lookout for reasons to be offended and to call out gross injustices that only exist because someone decides they should, guess whose fans are creating an internet furor because country music had the lily white audacity to snub her for an award she doesn’t deserve
In all my time writing for this stupid website, I can’t remember another moment when such a non-story story absolutely gripped the consciousness of the American music media, and polarized musical pundits with such spirited and sometimes vehement opposition that it permeated the entire media mindset.
Why exactly this song is considered country is beyond me. Is it because BeyoncÃ© randomly says “Texas” for no damn reason at the beginning, or screams “Yee haw!” once or twice? If this is what makes a song country, then this is the most stereotypical of stereotypical observations possible. Nonetheless, “Daddy Lessons” is still more country than Sam Hunt.
Harris Interactive has just released a new poll that queried the American public about their favorite music artists, musicians, and bands, and some noteworthy country music names made the list. When pollsters asked for unprompted responses to the question, “Who is your favorite singer/musician or band?”