cmas 2020

Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires Leave CMA After John Prine Snub

Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell at the 2019 CMA Awards. Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

We’re now over 24 hours removed from this year’s chaotic CMA Awards, but the fallout is still continuing. Singer-songwriter couple Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires announced they have returned their lifetime-membership cards to the Country Music Association after November 11’s ceremony failed to recognize losses including legendary songwriter John Prine and outlaw-country singers Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver. “I doubt anybody will care, but we cared a lot about our heroes,” Isbell tweeted. A former member of the Drive-By Truckers, Isbell was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2017 CMAs for The Nashville Sound; Shires performed with her supergroup the Highwomen at last year’s awards.

In a deleted Instagram post, Sturgill Simpson also called out the lack of recognition for Prine. “Literally two syllables: John Prine. That’s it. Nope,” he said, in a video of himself watching the awards. He captioned the post “Don’t get it twisted… wouldn’t be caught dead at this tacky ass glitter and botox cake & cock pony show even if my chair had a morphine drip. … I just wanted to see if they would say his name but nope.” Simpson previously busked outside the 2017 CMA Awards to raise money for the ACLU. The night of this year’s awards, Prine’s Oh Boy Records tweeted, “We’re disappointed John won’t be a part of the CMA award show tonight. Country music was both the inspiration and foundation for his songwriting and performing. While there may be a number of artists who have had more commercial success than John, there are very few who achieved more artistically.” The CMA has not responded to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, Maren Morris also addressed criticisms after her three wins at the CMAs, including Song and Single of the Year for her hit “The Bones.” “I still can get hurt when people claim I’m ‘not country’ but when I stood there accepting @cma Song of the Year, I realized it is much harder to forge your own path & sound than attempt to be a knock off of someone who’s already pioneered the genre,” she tweeted. “Thank you for accepting me.”

Singer-songwriter Margo Price had previously criticized the awards ahead of the November 11 show after the CMA tweeted a statement encouraging a “no-drama zone” after the presidential election. “Once again, the CMA’s are censoring/white washing their show but who’s surprised?” she tweeted on November 5. “Anyone still participating is a socially unconscious pawn. artists pander woke authenticity when it benefits them and then sit in silence as they collect their plastic trophies.” The ceremony also received criticism for taking place in person and indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, with artists pulling out over positive tests and possible exposure up until hours before the show.

Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires Leave CMA After John Prine Snub