Country Music Association (CMA) Branded as Bigots After Mike Huckabee Appointment

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The Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation has just accepted the resignation of its latest board member, Mike Huckabee.  The tenure lasted less than 24 hours, and now raises serious questions about the organization and its future.

And you thought the Recording Academy had problems.

Now, the Country Music Association (CMA) has managed to alienate a giant percentage of its constituency with one appointment to its board.

That appointment was for Mike Huckabee, whose election to the CMA Foundation Board immediately drew howls of protest from prominent members.  The former Arkansas governor and failed presidential candidate is known for harboring extremely anti-LGBTQ opinions and conservative Christian views, once comparing homosexuality to “drinking and swearing.”

Perhaps equally grating to opponents is Huckabee’s ardent support for Donald Trump.  Mike Huckabee’s daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is Trump’s press secretary.

Sounds like red state politics for for a red state genre.  But his appointment turned out to be a huge misread of CMA’s membership.

Accordingly, under intense pressure, Huckabee agree to resign after less than 24 hours.

The CMA Foundation is an education arm of the broader organization.  It’s tasked with promoting musical education and awareness in schools, with a noble charter to beef up music classes, activities, and access to instruments.

Unfortunately, that philanthropic endeavor has now been sullied by dirty politics and divisive conflict.

Huckabee’s post immediately drew the rebuke of Jason Owen, one of country music’s most powerful executives.  In a stinging letter addressed to CMA chief executive Sarah Trahern, Owen threatened to burn down the CMA house with the biggest blowtorch he could muster.

In his stinging, open letter, Owen threatened to remove all of this artists from both his Sandbox management firm and Monument label from the Foundation — if not the entire CMA:

“It is with a heavy heart that I must let you know moving forward, Sandbox and Monument will no longer support the CMA Foundation in any way (this includes everyone we represent collectively) considering the heartbreaking news shared today regarding Mike Huckabee appointee/elected to the CMA Foundation.

“Further, we find it hard to support the organization as a whole as a result. As you may know I have a child and two on the way. This man has made it clear that my family is not welcome in his America. And the CMA has opened their arms to him, making him feel welcome and relevant. Huckabee speaks of the sort of things that would suggest my family is morally beneath his and uses language that has a profoundly negative impact upon young people all across this country. Not to mention how harmful and damaging his deep involvement with the NRA is. What a shameful choice.

“I will not participate in any organization that elevates people like this to positions that amplify their sick voices.  This was a detrimentally poor choice by the CMA and its leaders. I only wish the best for you and I know how hard you work for the foundation but a grossly offensive decision like this only makes your job harder and diminishes the foundation’s purpose.”

That was likely the first of several dominos, with CMA’s brass potentially looking at the end of its organization — in about a day.  Accordingly, CMA immediately pressured Huckabee to back off, and tender his resignation.

Huckabee agree.  But on his way out, he offered a few stinging blows that further deteriorated the situation.  Blasting Owens & Co. as a ‘bullies,’ Huckabee agreed to walk away.  But Owen isn’t the only one that knows how to write a stinging letter.

Accordingly, here’s Huckabee’s impassioned send-off.

To the CMA Foundation Board
From Mike Huckabee
March 1, 2018

Dear Board Members:

I hereby tender my resignation effective immediately. I hope this will end the unnecessary distraction and deterrent to the core mission of the Foundation which is to help kids acquire musical instruments and have an opportunity to participate in music programs as students.

Since I will not be able to continue in what I had hoped to be useful service in this endeavor, I wanted to at least put some things on the record. I have no expectation that it will change the irrational vitriol directed toward you or me for my religious or political views that necessitated my abrupt departure, but I want you to know what you would never know by reading intolerant and vicious statements on the internet about who I am or what led me to want to be a part of your efforts to empower kids with the gift of music. So please bear with me.

Music changed my life. I grew up dirt poor in south Arkansas. No male upstream from me in my entire family ever even graduated from high school. I had no reason to believe that my life would consist of anything but scratching out a meager living and hoping to pay rent in a house I would never own just as generations before me had done.

Music changed that. The gift of an electric guitar by my parents when I was 11 put in my hands a future. It took them a year to pay for the $99 guitar they bought from the J.C. Penney catalog. Granted, I was never good enough to make a full-time living at music, but the confidence I gained by playing, being in front of people, and competing against myself and the low expectations I grew up with was transformative.

No need to recite my entire history, but I was especially baffled that I was accused of not being supportive of public education. I am the PRODUCT of public education. As Governor my own children were the first children of a Governor in 50 years to have their entire education grades 1-12 in the PUBLIC schools of Arkansas. I fought to give teachers the largest pay raise in state history.

I successfully led the effort to allow teachers to retire with full benefits after 28 years of service after my two Democrat predecessors vetoed the same bill. I personally shepherded through legislation that mandated both music AND arts programs for EVERY student in grades 1-12 and taught by fully certified teachers. We were one of the only states to have ever done that.

I was Chairman for 2 years of the Education Commission of the States, comprised of all 50 Governors, education leaders in the Senate and House from all 50 state legislatures, and the state education chief for each of the 50 states. My chosen theme and agenda for those two years was music education for every child. I launched an initiative “Play it Again, Arkansas” that promoted donation of musical instruments that would be professionally refurbished and provided to students whose parents couldn’t afford the rent or purchase of an instrument allowing them to be in the school band.

I traveled repeatedly to DC with the NAMM Foundation to advocate for music education and have worked with them for several years to urge states to mandate music and arts education. Now someone who has never met me threatens to wreck valuable programs of the CMA Foundation because of a personal contempt for my faith and politics. I am willing to get out of the way for the sake of the students the Foundation will hopefully help.

If the industry doesn’t want people of faith or who hold conservative and traditional political views to buy tickets and music, they should be forthcoming and say it. Surely neither the artists or the business people of the industry want that.

Until recently, the arts was the one place America could set aside political, geographical, racial, religious, and economic barriers and come together. If the arts community becomes part of the polarization instead of bridging communities and people over the power of civil norms as reflected in the arts, then we as a civilization may not be long for this earth.

All of us have deep passions about our beliefs. I do about mine. But I hate no one. I wish upon NO ONE the loss of life or livelihood because that person sees things differently than me.

I hope that the music and entertainment industry will become more tolerant and inclusive and recognize that a true love for kids having access to the arts is more important than a dislike for someone or a group of people because of who they are or what they believe.

My sincere thanks to the CMA Foundation for believing I had something to contribute. I regret that my presence caused controversy and threats to vital support for deserving kids. Kids wanting to learn music shouldn’t be the victims of adults who demand that only certain people can be in the room or be heard.

I wish you nothing but good will and success at reaching students across America who need music as much as I did.  At the end of the day, I’m not worth the fight, but the kids are. Never stop fighting for THEM!


Mike Huckabee

Point, Mr. Owen.

More as this develops.


12 Responses

  1. Mhump

    CMA is a bigoted organization because they showed intolerance to moral values!

  2. R Holder

    Informative article. It is shameful how Jason Owens is using and trying to blackmail the CMA into adopting his personal political agenda. Jason is a Christophobe and Hoplophobe.

  3. J.S.

    Not my country music, I abandoned country music years ago. I still got Hank jr, George S., Montgomery & Gent, Toby, George J, M. Haggard and more superstars but I’m tired of this BS these folks that say if you don’t think like me and support my agenda then you have no place…Really, get a life you are in the minority.

  4. CAE Embert

    Shame Shame Shame on the Country Music Association down right filth and blackmail. WE the people who support and Love Country Music are completely shocked to know people like this are running our favorite entertainment industry. Mr. big time executive producer needs to see the inside of a jail cell for threating to torch the CMA house with a blowtorch that is sick. These kinds of threats need to be looked into since he is wanting to be a arsonist. He is putting the Country Music family in a bad light since he feels some God made power to speak for all of the Country Music Association. He is going to be a father talking like that, who is going to allow this man to adopt a child they need their heads examined. The backlash will be so profound that each and every one associated with Country Music needs to denounce these two blackmailers who think they are speaking for all of their peers. You would throw a man of god a preacher and fine upstanding man to the wolfs for your own gain or else you will throw a fit. NO this will not resonate with the very people who because of them you have a job. You may be an big time player now but Karma will get you God don’t like ugly. The people who spend their money to keep you in luxury will boycott the very people you think your speaking for. The God fearing working class who spends their hard earn money on their Country Music family who have been lead to believe that they sing about the average man and care about their fans. You Mr. Owen have just open their eyes as to who is getting rich on their hard earned dollar. You need to be relieved of your job and seriously looked at as a trouble maker for law enforcement and whom ever is thinking that you should be the very one to be a father need some serious looking at too……We don’t care about your politics or your hate of the NRA or President Trump keep that crap inside you brain and don’t spew it at the people who keep you in your soon to be gone lifestyle. Father who act like you need to be seriously looked at throwing a fit or else. The acts you and your colleague are managing will feel the sting of the fans who made them soon.

  5. Anonymous

    Everyone should know the editors are censoring posts here because of their left leaning views.

  6. Anonymous

    The intolerant left, something they accuse conservatives of, strike again.

  7. Lloyd

    Mike Huckabee?!? Who’s next Vladimir Putin, The Great Leader or David Duke? Mr. Huckabee who choose to start a war on Woman, migrants, minorities and Gay People to remove our Civil Liberty’s now claims he is the victim. Shameful!

    • William

      Never thought I would see or here crap like this going on in country music. But starting to make sense now. I knew their was a reason I quit listening country music a couple of years ago. The music just wasn’t good as it was in the past. Same thing is going on in Hollywood now is going on in Nashville. Music executives want inject Their political beliefs into are music and if you don’t agree with them, then your a bad person. Evil is here. Their is a religious belief system that’s always has been connected to are music. Some of these people, need to be run out nashville.

    • Diana

      Lloyd, Perhaps Jesus should be next. Start throwing more stones since this is where you real hatred and intolerance lies I for one hope Owens reaps the same result from his actions and words that Hollywood has. Decent Americans with pro family values have made country music. That is why Owens and his like are pushing their LGBTQ agenda in an attempt infiltrate this venue. These moral issue are a battle for the heart not music.

  8. Woody

    Let Owens pull his people. His people won’t like starvation. Because they are at the mercy of the people who purchase their music, go to their concerts and support their careers. These same people will boycott them and their careers will become a thing of the past.

  9. 911 mom

    Faith Hill….I am so disappointed. I thought she was above all this nonsense.