It’s time for another iconic moment in CMA Awards history.
With this year’s show coming up in about two weeks, we’ve been looking back at some of the great moments throughout the show’s history.
We brought you Alan Jackson’s 1999 protest performance of “Choices” in honor of the great George Jones, and Sturgill Simpson’s legendary busking performance outside of Bridgestone Arena?
Then there was Mary Chapin Carpenter putting Dwight Yoakam on blast (allegedly) with her song “Opening Act.” And of course the time the late, great Charlie Rich got shitfaced and lit John Denver’s award envelope on fire.
And today we’re taking it back just a few years to one of the more recent shows, and a beef between two of the genre’s biggest stars.
The year was 2017. Garth Brooks won Entertainer of the Year for the sixth time (he’s won it once more since then too), and during the show he got up on stage and performed his latest single “Ask Me How I Know.”
Well, sort of.
During an interview immediately after the show, Garth admitted that he had lip-synced the performance, blaming it on being sick and in the midst of 12 shows in 10 days.
Here’s the performance of Garth lip-syncing
“We did a game-time call on whether we did sing the track or lip-sync it, and decided to lip-sync because the voice is just not there and you want to represent country music the best you can.”
Fans were understandably disappointed, taking to Twitter to blast Garth for not singing live during his performance.
But it wasn’t just the fans who blasted him: So did fellow Entertainer of the Year nominee Eric Church.
In an interview with Rolling Stone the following year, Eric had some strong words for Garth:
“We don’t use machines. We use instruments.
So the winner of the biggest category of the night lip-synced in the biggest moment on the show?
Fuck that! And I didn’t like his excuse at all.”
Tell us how you really feel, Chief.
And Church went on to call lip-syncing a “red line” that he’s never going to cross:
“It is and always will be a red line. It’s fabricated. I don’t want young artists thinking it’s OK, because it’s not.”
Gotta love Eric Church. You always know exactly where he stands – and it’s usually on the side of his fans.
That wouldn’t be the last time Eric called out Garth either: After he was robbed of Entertainer of the Year during the 2019 CMA Awards (yeah I said it), Eric took another not-so-subtle shot at Garth during a show the following week during a performance of Waylon Jennings’ “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way,” changing the lyrics to “I know Garth didn’t do it this way.”
Well all the controversy must have been too much for Mr. “We’re All One Big Happy Family” Garth, because the following year he announced that he was taking himself out of contention for Entertainer of the Year, an award that would FINALLY go to Eric Church in 2020.
And the fact that he was willing to step up, speak up for the fans, and call out one of the biggest artists in the genre for lip-syncing just proves why he deserved it so damn much.