Earlier this month Beyoncé performed “Daddy Lessons” on stage at the 50th Annual Country Music Association Awards with the Dixie Chicks. The performance was lauded by many cultural critics, hated by many country music fans and left many scratching their heads.
One of those left scratching their heads was country artist Travis Tritt, who took to Twitter the day after the awards ceremony to express his views.
After that tweet, he claimed in a reply that “Nobody in [country music] has done more to bridge racial gaps than me.”
After the late-night tweetstorm, he woke up to several people on the social media site labeling him a racist.
In an interview with Nash Country Daily, published last Thursday, Tritt doubled down on his opinions and clarified that his aversion to Beyoncé’s performance had nothing to do with race.
“It wasn’t so much about just Beyoncé,” he said. “This is a complaint that I’ve heard for a long time, actually for decades. Back in the ’90s, it was Elton John or Sting or whoever. Every year the CMA television producers feel a need to bring in acts from other genres, and it’s always done to boost ratings. I understand the concept behind that but at the same time I’ve always found it a little bit insulting— from the standpoint of being a country music artist—because this is a format that I’ve been a part of since the very beginning in my career. It’s a format that I have seen grow a tremendous amount in the 27 years that I’ve been doing this.”
He went on to say that other member of the “Class of ’89” were able to sell records and sell out concert arenas without help from outside sources, which is what he feels the Beyoncé addition to the CMA lineup was.
“As part of the Class of ’89—Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Clint Black and myself—we saw country music album sales increase by millions over what they had ever been before. We saw an ability by all country music artists to put more fannies in concert seats than we’d ever seen before. We sold a ton of product, drew in millions and millions of fans that had never listened to country music before. I think during that period of time we’ve certainly become strong enough to stand on our own two feet without the help from outside sources. I’ve been complaining about this for years, and it’s funny to me that it took complaining about this year’s performance, before anybody paid any attention to it.”
“It’s very strange to me. I’ve had open discussions about this on social media for the last 10 days and the fact is that while there are a lot of people that try to twist this into being something different than what it is—being motivated by something different than what it’s motivated by—the fact is that this is something that I’ve been very vocal about for a long time. Race has nothing to do with it. That’s what I’ve tried to make clear from the very beginning. We should be better than that. To make everything about race—to me—it makes me sad to be honest.”
He goes on to say that his tweets were taken out of context by people who picked the story up from Twitter, and that he simply thought it made no sense to have a pop artist on a country show, no matter who it was.
“First of all, they said that I trashed Beyoncé, which I never did. I never made a statement saying anything bad about her personally. All I said was that her performance—in my humble opinion—her performance as well as any of the other performances that have been on from the pop world, including Ariana Grande, Meghan Trainor, Justin Timberlake or whoever, do not belong. I don’t think they belong on any country music show. Especially on a country music show that was a 50-year celebration—an anniversary of what was supposed to be the entire 50-year history of country music awards—the CMA Awards show. The other thing that frustrated me was the fact, and it has frustrated me for years, is the fact that for every pop performance or R&B performance or any other type of genre performance that you have on the CMA Awards, that takes time away from somebody who is a country music artist, doing country music songs, releasing country music singles to radio, selling country music under that moniker to people all across the country and across the world. That’s taking time away from them. There are other artists that could have been just as much of a draw and that really should have been involved in that slot to celebrate the music that they have helped to create.
“So many great country music artists that you can name that weren’t part of it because there is only so much time—I get that, I understand that and everybody else does too. But when you take a portion of that precious time and give it to an artist outside of our industry, it makes no sense. It makes about as much sense to me as it would make sense to bring Eminem in on the Dove Awards. But you wouldn’t do that because it doesn’t fit the format. That’s my humble opinion.”
Tritt’s new album, “A Man and His Guitar,” is an acoustic live album, and it’s on sale now.