Sturgill Simpson also criticized the CMA Awards in a since-deleted post: "I just wanted to see if they would say his name, but nope," he said

By Darlene Aderoju
November 13, 2020 02:05 PM
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Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires

Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires are speaking out against the Country Music Association after the CMA Awards left out tributes to John Prine and several other late artists.

One day after the CMAs Wednesday, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires revealed they no longer wish to continue their membership with the association on Twitter.

Isbell, 41, announced the pair's decision on Thursday writing, "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."

However, a rep for the Country Music Association tells PEOPLE the lack of a tribute during the show was not an oversight: "The CMA Awards broadcast historically does not include an In Memoriam segment. An In Memoriam did air in 2017 to honor the victims of the tragic shooting at Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas. In order to recognize those we have lost each year, the CMA does include an In Memoriam tribute on our website and in our annual CMA Awards Program Guide, which was mailed to CMA members ahead of this year's broadcast. To note, this year's In Memoriam includes those lives lost prior to the program guide’s printing deadline of October 14, 2020."

Country singer Greg Freeman asked Isbell if he'd be willing to take a different approach to the issue.

"Wouldn't it make better sense to retain your membership and work to affect change as a member?" he replied to the tweet. "Calling it quits might not shake things up. Using your power as an influential artist and voting member could, though."

Isbell was not interested. He wrote, "I feel my energy is best spent elsewhere."

Freeman respected his decision and replied, "Well, I get the argument that sometimes you just have to walk away. Some institutions aren't open to changing the status quo or hearing differing points of view. (As for Trump, he has a long history of firing anyone that ticks him off or dares to challenge his thinking.)"

Jason Isbell
| Credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty

Fans were quick to chime in. "They didn’t mention JP? Quitting is the only option," one person wrote. "I’m pretty shook by this TBH. All three were country legends and JP is the best songwriter ever. (A hill I will die on)," another added.

"Exactly. They didn’t acknowledge Harold Reid either and Harold spent a couple decades hosting and presenting at their dang events," a third Twitter user said. "Why spend any time working for a group that won’t even give you flowers when you pass?"

Fellow country star Sturgill Simpson expressed similar sentiments in a since-deleted Instagram video, according to Rolling Stone.

"Dont' get it twisted," he captioned the clip. "[I] wouldn't be caught dead at this tacky [sic] ass glitter and botox cake and c– pony show even if my chair had a morphine drip."

Sturgill Simpson
| Credit: Courtesy Surgill Simpson/Facebook

He went on: "I just wanted to see if they would say his name, but nope. No time for Buddha ... It's time for this hegemonic horse shit ship to sink and for that to happen, the music press needs to ask and demand answers to the hard questions instead of depending on those of us outside the box for the 'tasty quote machine answers.'"

During the show, Charlie Daniels, Kenny Rogers and Joe Diffie received tributes.