Jason Isbell CMA
Jason Isbell, left, and Amanda Shires arrive at the 53rd annual CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Jason Isbell + Amanda Shires Return CMA Membership Cards to Protest John Prine Snub

The Country Music Association (CMA) ruffled some social media users' feathers on Wednesday night (Nov. 11) when its acknowledgement of country artists we've lost this year got limited to tribute performances for Charlie Daniels, Joe Diffie, Mac Davis and Kenny Rogers. That deserving foursome includes two Country Music Hall of Fame inductees, and each performer left a mark on music currently made in Nashville and beyond. However, the CMA Awards' short list skipped over some all-time great singer-songwriters, such as Johnny Bush, Jerry Jeff Walker, Billy Joe Shaver and John Prine.

The Prine snub hit home for several fans and performers, including married couple and the 400 Unit band mates Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires. Both gained a friend and mentor from Prine's late-life role as the godfather of the various sounds labeled as Americana.

"Due to @CountryMusic's failure to mention John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver at the CMA's last night, @amandashires and I have decided to return our membership cards," Isbell Tweeted on Thursday evening (Nov. 12). "I doubt anybody will care, but we cared a lot about our heroes."

The Alabama native and former Drive-By Truckers member's post included images of two CMA lifetime membership cards, prompting at least one fan to crack a pretty good Costco joke.

Isbell's band earned a 2017 CMA Album of the Year nominee for The Nashville Sound.

Read More: Multi-Grammy Award-Winner John Prine Dies From the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Others frustrated that no one as much as uttered the name John Prine during Wednesday night's awards show include someone who's probably not checking his mailbox diligently for his own CMA membership credentials, Sturgill Simpson.

"It's literally two syllables: John. Prine. That's it," Simpson said in an Instagram video.


The most heartbreaking complaint about the CMA snubbing Prine came from his family.

"We're disappointed John won't be a part of the CMA award [sic] show tonight. Country music was both the inspiration and foundation for his songwriting and performing," Prine's record label, Oh Boy Records, tweeted before the broadcast. "While there may be a number of artists who have had more commercial success than John, there are very few who achieved more artistically."

Now Watch: Remembering John Prine's Songs Through the Years