The Country Music Awards 50th annual ceremony back in 2016 was definitely an unforgettable moment in the industry’s history for three things – Beyoncé performed “Lemonade,” The Chicks (formerly known as Dixie Chicks) made their return performing with the pop titan, and in the middle of all of it, legendary country singer Alan Jackson stood up and walked out from it.
As Whiskey Riff noted, Alan Jackson has always been fearless in speaking his mind and taking actions. In 1994, he made his drummer play without sticks when he was told to play a backing track. In 1999, after George Jones was set to play a shortened version of his song “Choices,” Jackson went ahead and performed the song itself during his “Pop a Top” performance.
While Jackson didn’t directly comment on his stand-out choice, a Nashville manager offered a perspective on the moment in an interview with Billboard. The manager shared that it was overall a flat performance, and there were a variety of reasons many of the industry people were not impressed.
Though that came across as a surprise as it felt like the love was unanimous inside the hall compared to the different opinions on social media.
The manager also added that in his opinion, the performance felt out of place and forced. It seemed to him that for a 50th anniversary celebrating country music, Beyoncé became the highlight, and The Chicks were reduced to a backup band without so much of a real shout-out to them. And Alan Jackson’s decision to walk out in the middle of the performance spoke volumes for the traditional, real country acts.
It was an understandable sentiment to an extent as genres generally keep themselves separated. But of course, not everyone agreed on that.
Another attendee thought that just about everyone who watched the performance live loved not only the performance itself but the pairing as well, even if the home viewers were kind of skeptical. A former Grammy’s trustee also called Beyoncé’s attendance cool and was a great call to celebrate the artist’s little Houston side. Aside from that, the former trustee shared that every awards show had to go for diversity so as not to be branded like the Oscars, and on top of that, Nashville was the third largest voting contingent for the Grammys. (There were a handful of veteran Grammy voters who felt that the pop titan’s appearance on the CMA was timed to keep her ‘at the forefront of the tastemakers’ minds’.)
Talking on a more personal note though, Natalie Maines of The Chicks expressed that the poor audience reception to Queen Bey’s appearance on stage was not appreciated and that the disrespect was disgusting.
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Alan Jackson, Beyonce, The Chicks