As many of you are aware of, Grand Ole Opry member Blake Shelton made some very disparaging remarks about traditional country fans in a recent interview with GAC as part of their Backstory series. Here is the direct quote from Blake:
"If I am 'Male Vocalist of the Year' that must mean that I'm one of those people now that gets to decide if it moves forward or if it moves on. Country music has to evolve in order to survive. Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa's music. And I don't care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, 'My God, that ain't country!' Well that's because you don't buy records anymore, jackass. The kids do, and they don't want to buy the music you were buying."
As an article that I read stated, Blake Shelton's comments are not only hurtful to classic and traditional country fans, they are incorrect. According to a study of country radio conducted by Edison Research and released during last year's Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, listeners actually want more classic country on radio, and the lack of it has been given credit for the contraction being experienced in the radio format. Blake's comments also specifically mentions "records," but the statistics show that older country music listeners are the ones that still buy music in physical formats, while younger listeners tend to download music illegally, stream it at very low margins for artists and their labels, or purchase individual songs.
Furthermore, Blake Shelton brought up the common misconception that classic and traditional country fans do not want country music to evolve. Though this may be true for some traditional fans, as Saving Country Music pointed out in a piece titled "Progress Vs Traditionalism in Country Music," the progression of country music while still keeping it tied to its roots is the foundation of Americana which has benefited from tremendous growth over the last few years.
This is not the first time that Blake Shelton has landed in hot water over some of this comments. In May 2011 he was accused of advocating violence against gays by re-writing the words to a Shania Twain song. He also is noted for the use of fowl language on his twitter account.
Since this morning, a number of country music stars have spoken out against Blake and his comments, including Ray Price, Ray Stevens and Dale Watson. Since then, some comments have been taken down from Blake's facebook page and there are reports of at least several radio stations pulling his songs out of their play rotations.
While he responded to Ray Price and tried to say that he didn't mean to offend anyone, he did not take back any of his comments and tried to justify that statements by saying he is doing the same thing that Ray did when he recorded "For The Goodtimes."
Blake Shelton is a member of the Grand Ole Opry. He was asked to join the cast in September 2010. You can tell how he feels about the Opry based on the fact that he made no Opry appearances last year. Since the Opry is built on the foundation of traditional country music, and most of their members sing traditional country music in some form, I really don't think Blake will have the guts to show himself around the Opry anytime soon. But if I were Pete Fisher, I would not give Blake the chance. I would fire Blake Shelton from the Opry immediately!!!! Think about it. Those that he is calling "old farts and jackass" are the ones purchasing the tickets to the show. Many of the artists appearing on the Opry set the table for him to succeed in country music. I wonder how his friend Trace Adkins feels about his comments?
Blake Shelton would not be the first artist to have been fired or not invited to appear on the Opry. We all know about Hank Williams III and his insult that he directed to the Opry. I put Blake's comments in that same class.
Many of us wondered why Pete Fisher asked him to join the Opry and questioned the decision at the time. I think many of us were correct in our thoughts. It is time for Pete to admit his mistake and to terminate Blake as an Opry member.