Naomi Judd gave what would turn out to be her final performance just a few short weeks ago at the CMT Music Awards when The Judds reunited to perform their 1990 hit “Love Can Build a Bridge.”
But back in 2013, Naomi was none too happy with CMT and their music awards – and she let them know it.
The controversy came when that year’s CMT Music Awards were held just about a month after the passing of one of the all-time greats of country music, the legendary George Jones.
When it came time to pay tribute to George Jones, a moment that could have filled an entire ceremony on its own, the CMT Awards could only manage to dedicate about a minute to Possum’s passing.
Jason Aldean gave a short, 30-second speech honoring Jones as “the greatest country singer of all time,” and then the show threw it to The Mavericks to perform one of Possum’s hits, “The Race is On” before cutting off the performance after only about 30 seconds.
And that was it. That was all the time that the CMT Music Awards could manage to give to honor one of the greatest country music singers of all time.
People were confused, but even more than that, people were PISSED – and that included Naomi Judd.
So Naomi let them hear about it, penning an editorial in The Tennessean that blasted not only their tribute to Jones but also the fact that instead of featuring actual country artists, CMT brought out artists from other genres instead. (If that sounds familiar, it’s because nothing has changed in the 9 years since then).
“George Jones is to country music what The Beatles are to pop, the Rolling Stones to rock, Elvis to rockabilly, Mozart to classical and Aretha to soul.
Yet, the “Country” Music Television awards show allowed only a “by the way” mention of Jones’ death and legacy. Incongruously, they chose alternative music group the Mavericks to perform their short version of George’s “The Race Is On.”
If you remember the dark times of country music that we were in back in 2013, it was the year that “Cruise” topped the charts for about a million weeks in a row, and it was sitting at #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart when the CMT Awards aired.
So of course, CMT had to bring out Florida Georgia Line and Nelly to perform what the awards show called “the song of the summer.”
And Naomi let them hear about that too:
“True country music fans are a loyal bunch and are passionate about our roots and heritage.
Every year, CMT includes artists of unrelated genres, many of whom some country music fans don’t even know. I suggest the CMT Awards show change its name. Perhaps to “the Multi-Genre Awards Show, Featuring Artists under 30.””
And that was back in 2013 – and it’s only gotten worse since then.
Naomi ended by acknowledging that what she was saying probably wouldn’t be popular in some circles around Nashville, and that it may get her banned from CMT, but that she wasn’t happy with the way country music was headed:
“I realize speaking out will cause me to now be forever banned by CMT. But I’m tired of folks messing with my country music. Especially when it involves my dear friend George Jones.”
Luckily she wasn’t “forever banned” by CMT, and her last performance came on the very same awards show that she had taken to task a decade earlier.
Of course it was once again sandwiched in between performances by artists of unrelated genres. But for 4 minutes, we were reminded what country music is supposed to sound like by one of its most passionate defenders.