Travis Tritt Responds to Beyoncé Backlash: “Race Has Nothing to Do With It.”

Travis Tritt Responds to Beyoncé Backlash: “Race Has Nothing to Do With It.”

Earlier this month, following Beyoncé‘s performance with the Dixie Chicks at the 50th annual CMA Awards on Nov. 3, Travis Tritt—as well as many other country music fans—took to Twitter to voice his thoughts about the presence of non-country artists performing at country music awards show.

While many agreed with what Travis had to say, Beyoncé fans—also known as the Beyhive—set their sites on Travis, attacking him via social media for what they believed were racist and derogatory comments.

Nash Country Daily had a chance to sit down with Travis after the Twitter battle to talk about his new album, A Man and His Guitar (more on that next week), his comments regarding the CMA show and the backlash.

But first, here are the comments that Travis made on Twitter.

NCD: You’ve been quite outspoken on Twitter about Beyoncé being part of the CMA Awards. Why?

Travis Tritt: It wasn’t so much about just Beyoncé. This is a complaint that I’ve heard for a long time, actually for decades. Back in the ’90s, it was Elton John or Sting or whoever. Every year the CMA television producers feel a need to bring in acts from other genres, and it’s always done to boost ratings. I understand the concept behind that but at the same time I’ve always found it a little bit insulting— from the standpoint of being a country music artist—because this is a format that I’ve been a part of since the very beginning in my career. It’s a format that I have seen grow a tremendous amount in the 27 years that I’ve been doing this.

“As part of the Class of ’89—Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Clint Black and myself—we saw country music album sales increase by millions over what they had ever been before. We saw an ability by all country music artists to put more fannies in concert seats than we’d ever seen before. We sold a ton of product, drew in millions and millions of fans that had never listened to country music before. I think during that period of time we’ve certainly become strong enough to stand on our own two feet without the help from outside sources. I’ve been complaining about this for years, and it’s funny to me that it took complaining about this year’s performance, before anybody paid any attention to it.

“It’s very strange to me. I’ve had open discussions about this on social media for the last 10 days and the fact is that while there are a lot of people that try to twist this into being something different than what it is—being motivated by something different than what it’s motivated by—the fact is that this is something that I’ve been very vocal about for a long time. Race has nothing to do with it. That’s what I’ve tried to make clear from the very beginning. We should be better than that. To make everything about race—to me—it makes me sad to be honest.”

NCD: In the times that we are living in now, with race being such a dividing point, is that what you feel they turned your comments into, something racial?

“That was done by the people who picked the story up from Twitter—from my Twitter feed. Some of the people in the media twisted it completely around. First of all, they said that I trashed Beyoncé, which I never did. I never made a statement saying anything bad about her personally. All I said was that her performance—in my humble opinion—her performance as well as any of the other performances that have been on from the pop world, including Arianna Grande, Meghan Trainor, Justin Timberlake or whoever, do not belong. I don’t think they belong on any country music show. Especially on a country music show that was a 50-year celebration—an anniversary of what was supposed to be the entire 50-year history of country music awards—the CMA Awards show. The other thing that frustrated me was the fact, and it has frustrated me for years, is the fact that for every pop performance or R&B performance or any other type of genre performance that you have on the CMA Awards, that takes time away from somebody who is a country music artist, doing country music songs, releasing country music singles to radio, selling country music under that moniker to people all across the country and across the world. That’s taking time away from them. There are other artists that could have been just as much of a draw and that really should have been involved in that slot to celebrate the music that they have helped to create.

“So many great country music artists that you can name that weren’t part of it because there is only so much time—I get that, I understand that and everybody else does too. But when you take a portion of that precious time and give it to an artist outside of our industry, it makes no sense. It makes about as much sense to me as it would make sense to bring Eminem in on the Dove Awards. But you wouldn’t do that because it doesn’t fit the format. That’s my humble opinion.”

Travis Tritt photo by Richard McLaren/Aristo PR

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