This Omission From The CMAs Has Country Stars Seeing Red

The 2020 CMAs took place just two nights ago, but already they're proving to be one of the more forgettable awards shows in the organization's history ... or rather, one they probably wish they could forget. The hosts didn't go over as well as was hoped, the audience was a bit ... subdued, and then there was the fact that nobody could really forget the fact that we're still in the middle of a pandemic, something Reba tried to laugh off with a one-liner that went over like the proverbial lead zeppelin. (Not the band, but an actual airship. Made of lead.) Except, of course, for the fact that everyone did seem to have forgotten it, to the extent that there were a lot of people in a lot closer proximity than 6 feet, none of them wearing masks. It was unexpected, especially in light of the fact that quite a few performers had to cancel at the last minute due to testing positive for the virus.

And one country performer, who passed away from COVID-19 in April, was even snubbed during the show, according to his fans: the legendary entertainer John Prine. You would think that Prine would at least rate some kind of major tribute at the CMAs, wouldn't you? Or at the very least, the tiniest of shout-outs? But you'd be wrong.

Country stars and fans can't believe this diss

As Sturgill Simpson raged on his Instagram, "I just wanted to see if they would say his name but nope ... two seconds, that's all it would have took. Two seconds, literally two syllables, John. Prine." Simpson, himself a COVID survivor, also pointed out that he believes this was a deliberate omission on the part of the CMA. He said "I promise you they were asked to include him so a 'nope, no time' decision was made by somebody."

Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires took their disgust with the CMA to an even higher level — as of a morning-after tweet by Isbell. "Due to @CountryMusic's failure to mention John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Billy Joe Shaver at the CMA's last night, @amandashires and I have decided to return our membership cards." He went on to explain that they knew their gesture was largely symbolic, but that it was one the couple felt compelled to make, saying : "I doubt anybody will care, but we cared a lot about our heroes."

The CMAs were pretty selective in their tributes

It wasn't like the CMA had banned any mentions of the dearly departed in a misguided attempt to make us forget the still-perilous state of the world in 2020. Saving Country Music lists off the extended salute to the late Charlie Daniels that kicked off the show, along with Joe Pardi's tribute to '90s star Joe Diffie (another coronavirus victim), Little Big Town's Kenny Rogers memorial segment, and of course hosts Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker covering "In the Ghetto" as a tear-jerking tribute to songwriter Mac Davis.

While perhaps the show's producers didn't feel they had enough time to add in any more "in memoriam" segments, still, the site lamented that the CMAs didn't even bother to take just 30 seconds (perhaps leaving out a few lame jokes that wouldn't have been missed) to simply list the names of not only Prine, Walker, and Shaver, but also Johnny Bush, James Hand, Justin Townes Earle, Harold Reid of The Statler Brothers, Willie Nelson's drummer Paul English, drummers W.S. Holland and Biff Adam — not to mention Bakersfield sound founder Fuzzy Owen (via Music Row).

There was one CMA Awards tribute that caused some concern

One of the most genuinely moving moments at the CMAs involved the performer who received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award: Charley Pride, who deservedly joined the ranks of previous award winners including Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, and Kenny Rogers. Not only did he deliver a touchingly humble acceptance speech, but he also performed his 1971 hit (via KXRB) "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" (via YouTube). Which was lovely to see, but...

Pride is 86 years old. He looks great, he sounds great, but did we forget (how could we forget?), there's a pandemic going on? And that older folks are at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19? According to the CDC, anyone 85 years or older is 630 times likelier to die from the virus than someone in the 18 to 29 age bracket. Pride was not masked, nor were any of the many people well within 6 feet of his bubble.