Naomi Judd complains about ‘multi-genre’ presence at CMT Awards ceremony…

Naomi Judd – former half of the superstar country music duo, the Judds, complained in an open letter to the Tennessean about the supposed lack of disrespect given to the recently departed country legend, George Jones. Part of her complaint was that Jones’ tribute seemed lackluster or half-hearted, but also that the Mavericks were called to perform the tribute to the late country icon. Never mind that the Mavericks could be considered country music (or alt-country), Judd groused that “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′.”

Of country fans, the former singer maintained “True country music fans are a loyal bunch and are passionate about our roots and heritage.”

I won’t address the issue of Jones’ tribute not being ‘enough’ – because she may have a point. And as a personal friend of Jones, Judd would be more sensitive to the topic.

But my issue comes with her complaint of ‘multi-genre’ artists and “true” country music fans.

I’m a country music fan – I’m not-so passionate about my roots and heritage – but to be honest, my roots and heritage are vastly different from Judd’s – as I imagine a lot of country music fans are; and while Judd’s missive is too short for too much examination, it does seem that when it comes to country music, Naomi Judd looks at the genre like Sarah Palin looks at this country – there are true country music fans, and untrue country music fans – and there are some definite strict rules, apparently, because a band like the Mavericks just doesn’t cut it.

Country music – like all forms of popular music – has been influenced by many different genres – soul, gospel, rock, folk, etc – modern country singers like Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Garth Brooks, and Judd’s daughter, Wynonna, have all released albums that run a gamut of musical styles – none strictly adhering to rootsy country music; in fact, some of the Judds’ biggest hits were country-pop songs that owed as much to Los Angeles as they did to Nashville.

And speaking of the 2013 CMT Awards, who on that particular broadcast wasn’t a country singer? Lenny Kravitz, a rock singer, came on to sing a cover of “American Woman,” but did so with country singer Jason Aldean. Rapper Nelly was on that night, but like Kravitz, he was paired with country duo Florida Georgia Line. The only other performer I could think of that may not be country is former Hootie & the Blowfish lead singer Darius Rucker – who by the way, has recently remade himself as a country-pop. Oh, and Judd took offense at having the Mavericks perform – because she found the band to be not “country enough” to pay tribute to George Jones.

I’m not sure what Judd is complaining about – in fact, if she’s interested in broadening the genre’s appeal, then it’s really smart for the producers of the award shows to bring on other artists to perform with country singers – especially if it’s Darius Rucker, Nelly, and Lenny Kravitz. Because let’s face it – country music and country music fans don’t have the best reputation when it comes to people of color – Rucker recently had to swat off a racist Tweet about his country music creds because the singer’s black. And think about it – aside from Charley Pride and (sometimes) Ray Charles, can you think of another black country star? I’m still trying…Having Kravitz and Nelly perform on the show, gives a message to the viewers and the press that country music can be just as diverse and multi-cultural as other forms popular music – this is especially necessary when you have someone like Larry the Cable Guy on your show. Having black performers on a show like the CMT Awards is a great way to counter some unfair perceptions.

And aside from coming off as a fuddy duddy, Judd is also just plain wrong about the sanctity of country music – Dolly Parton, arguably the greatest female country star was famous for hop-scotching through different styles of music throughout her storied career – country, pop, gospel, rock, bluegrass, folk, dance, disco; Rosanne Cash and Emmylou Harris both produced some of their most interesting and heart-stopping music when they looked to expand their sounds by incorporated untraditional instruments and production on their records; even Tammy Wynette, the patron saint of country music scored a huge hit in the mid 80s with the house outfit, KLF.

Country music isn’t some sort of moldy, mummified institution – but a living, breathing entity, that grows – picking up influences as it moves along the way – synthesizers, drum machines, electric guitars all get pulled in as country music continues to grow.

Instead of bemoaning the inclusion of rock stars like Kravitz and rappers like Nelly, Judd should embrace and celebrate the growing diversity among true country music fans and the genre’s performers.

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2 Comments

Filed under Celeb, commentary, music, Television

2 responses to “Naomi Judd complains about ‘multi-genre’ presence at CMT Awards ceremony…

  1. Terrie Edwards

    I have always loved the Judds music ever since first hearing Mama He’s Crazy for the first time on the radio. Living in San Antonio I made it to every performance of theirs whether dance hall or rodeo here, in Houston, or anywhere I was able to in this great state of Texas. I introduced my Dad to their music and he went to each and every one of those performances with me…and, I might add, he had a terrible crush on “Mama Judd.”
    I was fortunate enough to win a trip to the CMA awards one year, and yes, Dad was my date. Part of the win was attending the after party with many of the country stars which included Naomi and Wynnona. I remember how excited my Dad was to have the chance to meet the mother/daughter duo as well as so many other artists who were present. I will admit, I was in awe meeting Wynonna…such a great voice, and very gracious. Unfortunately, “Mama Judd” responded to an obvious die-hard fans greeting with a mere glance over the rim of whatever drink was she was having. No “hello, thank you”…nothing. Just a silent “don’t want to be bothered” stare. I knew my Dad was crushed, as was his opinion of her, but a gentlemen prevails. We met many great people at that party…Reba, Ronnie Milsap, K.T.Oslin to name a few. I will never forget that experience and would not trade it for anything. However, when I read how someone like Naomi Judd bashes her colleagues and their form of art I am reminded of the self-centered, conceited woman who chose to appear better than a fan who was one of many responsible for her and her daughter’s success. They say “some things never change.” Well, I believe that. Till the day my Dad died he still loved their music in spite of her manner…and I will never forget the gentleman he was that evening.

    • thecrowdedbookshelf

      Hello –
      Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading.
      I think your father sounded like a lovely man – I’m glad you were able to share some great memories with him – and I’m sorry you had a not-so-great experience with Naomi Judd…Still, you and your dad’s love for country music seemed to be a great bond, so I’m glad you had that to share – and thanks for telling the story – aside from the Judd part, it looks like it was a great evening, seeing all those big stars.
      Thanks again!

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