Beyoncé’s surprise performance at the 50th Country Music Association Awards caused a tizzy on Twitter yesterday — both among Bey fans sitting down to watch their first country-music event, and some country-music fans who weren’t into the performance selection. But one voice has been surprisingly absent from the conversation: that of the Country Music Association itself.
Elle reported that no mentions of Beyoncé’s performance with the Dixie Chicks had appeared on the Country Music Association’s website, Facebook, or Twitter account. There’s also a conspicuous gap in a series of performance videos on the CMA Awards’ Facebook page, though you can watch Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks on-demand on the ABC website. Uproxx further reports that tweets and Facebook posts pertaining to Beyoncé’s appearance have been deleted.
The Verge has been unable to confirm the existence of the reportedly deleted posts. Regardless, the question remains why the CMA Awards wouldn’t want to promote — on any of its platforms — a performance from one of the biggest artists in music. Late Thursday evening, the CMA issued a statement to E! News, claiming “Beyoncé’s performance with Dixie Chicks was a highlight of the evening and we are continuing to share the amazing full-length performance clip via our social channels.”
But that’s flat out misleading. As of 7:30PM ET Thursday, the Association’s Twitter account hadn’t made a single mention of the CMA performance after the show. Beyoncé does appear in photo albums recently published to Facebook.
TMZ reports that the decision to scrub Beyoncé’s performance is in response to comments from racist fans:
“Sources directly connected with the CMAs tell TMZ, the honchos folded to fans who posted racist and other harsh comments. We're told the honchos were especially concerned about the reaction to Beyonce's support and the support of the Dixie Chicks for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Shortly after the publication of Elle’s story, the CMA Facebook page finally shared a post from the Dixie Chicks’ Facebook page, promoting the group’s performance with Beyoncé. The performance of “Daddy Lessons,” a Southern country-inspired song from Beyoncé’s recent album Lemonade, seems to have rubbed some country fans the wrong way.
The following comments are from that post. Among other things, they refer to Beyoncé and/or the Dixie Chicks as “racist,” “anti-police,” and “against America.”
Beyoncé has been a subject of ire recently in relation to her civil-rights activism and participation in the Black Lives Matter movement. After she and a team of dancers performed at the Super Bowl clad in Black Panthers-inspired costumes, several municipal police departments took personal offense, and some conservative pundits implied that Beyoncé was openly inciting violence.
The Dixie Chicks are no stranger to political controversy either. After lead singer Natalie Maines said in 2003 that she was “ashamed” to be from George W. Bush’s home state of Texas, the group received death threats, became the subject of protests, and were essentially exiled from the country industry. Maines tweeted that she never expected to return to the CMA Awards, and wouldn’t have if the group hadn’t been personally invited by Beyoncé.
We’ve reached out to the Country Music Association for comment, and for clarification on whether Beyoncé’s absence is a result of viewer complaints. We will update if and when we hear back.