Three things were conspicuously missing from Wednesday’s CMA Awards: Any mention of the word COVID-19; any acknowledgement of the passing of three cherished figures who were kinda country (John Prine, Billy Joe Shaver and Jerry Jeff Walker), and an announcement of the CMA radio winners.
We have a Twin Cities victor in radio: Chris Carr & Company from K102 (KEEY) captured major market radio personality of the year. The victory for morning personality Carr and sidekicks Kia Becht and McKaila Granning was actually announced on Oct. 27, but the CMA Awards inexplicably neglected to salute the winners during Wednesday’s three-hour broadcast.
By the by, Carr previously collected CMA’s top radio personality prizes in 2007 (at K102) and 2011 and 2014 (at WUBE in Cincinnati). Carr & Company prevailed this year over personalities from Atlanta, Phoenix, Charlotte and Seattle.
On Wednesday, CMA co-hosts Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker never uttered the word COVID, though they joked about staying 6 feet apart. When the awards show saluted ’90s country star Joe Diffie, there was no mention he died of COVID-19 in March.
(FYI: Four scheduled performers pulled out of the ceremonies because of positive coronavirus tests: Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice, Lady A, and fiddler Jenee Fleenor, who was scheduled to participate in a salute to the late Charlie Daniels.)
Keith Urban did dedicate his performance of “God Whispered Your Name” to frontline workers without stating the issue(s) by name. And, in accepting the entertainer of the year prize at night’s end, a surprised Eric Church talked about the year 2020.
“If there was ever a year not to win this award. This year, at least for me, has been about the loss of this year, loss of life, loss of playing shows, loss of freedom, loss of kids being in school,” he told the socially distanced crowd at Music City Center in Nashville, without mentioning the pandemic specifically.
“And you know what the win is? The win is we all were here tonight, together as country music. In-person live, not on Zoom.
“And I really believe this, it’s going to be music that brings us out of this. That is the one thing that is going to save the entire world. Politicians are about division. Music is about unity. And I promise you, it’s going to take everybody in this room to unite.”