by James Barker, Senior Writer
Nominations for the 2021 Country Music Association Awards are now open. The first two rounds of voting are expected to finish by August 12th, with nominees announced after that later this summer. With all the talk of country music awards shows featuring more diverse line-ups, and the CMA having recently recognized both Pride Month and Black Music Month in June, recognizing a diverse range of artists would be a sure-fire way to show that all these efforts weren’t tokenistic, right?
Not unless they change their criteria — which is not terribly transparent, and which I cannot access myself without being a member. (This industry gatekeeping and lack of transparency was one of the points we recently raised in our letter to the CMA.) As Dr. Jada Watson of the University of Ottawa recently pointed out, we do know the CMA Awards recently narrowed the criteria for Single of the Year, going from allowing any single in the Top 50 to be nominated down to the Top 10. This, Watson says, has “helped white women only” — eliminating the possibility of a nomination for marginalized artists who are gaining a foothold in the mainstream industry. Requiring nominees for Single of the Year to have reached the Top 10 leaves no LGBTQ+ artists eligible, even Lily Rose and The Brothers Osborne, the two who have charted in 2021.
The most likely LGBTQ+ nomination this year may be The Brothers Osborne, for Duo of the Year and Album of the Year. If the CMA wanted to acknowledge the full diversity of country talent in 2021, however, their criteria and nominating members need only look to the stellar releases from Joy Oladokun, Amythyst Kiah, and Allison Russell for a start. If the CMA’s actions last month were sincere, now is the time to prove it.