The CMT Awards in the States left many country music fans scratching their heads. It featured performances from rock band Cheap Trick, rapper Pitbull, British R&B singer Leona Lewis, as well as Pharrell Williams and Fifth Harmony. Even Candace Payne, the “Chewbacca Mom”, made an appearance. It seems the industry still hasn’t been able to embrace the right kind of inclusiveness, and realize that welcoming artists from other genres does not justify its recent downplay of female artists and its chronic lack of involving Canadian country musicians. The latter did graduate a notch from a complete shunning to tokenism, as Calgary’s Lindsay Ell was nominated for Social Superstar of the Year.
Speaking of regional/ethnic cleansing in country music, the Canadian Country Music Association recently announced a Spotlight Contest where one country music artist will win a performance spot at Country Music Week. The association reached out to provincial music associations to select one artist from the province to participate in the contest. One would expect to find ten artists representing all 10 provinces, but alas there are only nine: BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, …, NB, NS, PE, and NL. The CCMA does not offer an explanation as to why it left out Canada’s second most populated province — Quebec — a region that has spawned a host of platinum certified stars of country music.