Jason Isbell leaves CMA over its omission of country music “heroes” during the awards’ ‘in memoriam’ segment

John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver were left out of the awards.

Jason Isbell

Image: Alysse Gafkjen

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Jason Isbell is no longer part of the Country Music Association (CMA).

He and Amanda Shires have abandoned their CMA lifetime memberships following the omission of several country music stars, who died this year, during the ‘in memoriam’ segment of Wednesday’s (11 November) award ceremony.

Isbell announced the news on Twitter, calling out the CMA for not recognising three of his “heroes”.

“Due to @CountryMusic’s failure to mention John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver at the CMA’s last night, [Amanda Shires] and I have decided to return our membership cards,” he tweeted.

“I doubt anybody will care, but we cared a lot about our heroes.”

Fellow country musician Sturgill Simpson has also expressed his disappointment in the CMA’s exclusion of Prine. In an Instagram video, a sullen-looking Simpson said: “Two seconds. That’s all it would’ve took. Two seconds. Literally two syllables. John Prine. That’s it.”


Oh Boy Records, the label founded by Prine, also weighed in on Twitter. “We’re disappointed John won’t be a part of the CMA award show tonight […] While there may be a number of artists who have had more commercial success than John, there are very few who achieved more artistically.”

Prine died on 8 April this year due to COVID-19, Walker in October due to cancer, and Shaver in October due to a stroke.

The awards ceremony instead honoured Kenny Rogers, Charlie Daniels and Joe Diffie, among others.

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