Jason Aldean will perform at CMT Music Awards despite ban and backlash

The “Try That in a Small Town” singer is set to perform “Let Your Boys Be Country” at the ceremony.

In spite of widespread controversy, Jason Aldean is set to perform at the CMT Music Awards.

The country singer sparked criticism last summer with his “Try That in a Small Town,” as many interpreted the song and video as a condemnation of the Black Lives Matter movement. CMT initially played the video for the song in the weekend after its July release, but pulled it from rotation following online controversy.

Now, Aldean will perform his song “Let Your Boys Be Country” at Sunday night’s ceremony, marking his ninth performance at the event. That same song is also nominated for the Video of the Year award. Other performers include Jelly Roll, Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini, and Lainey Wilson.

Jason Kempin/Getty Images Jason Aldean
Jason Kempin/Getty Images Jason Aldean

The video for “Try That in a Small Town” featured footage of a Molotov cocktail, a burning American flag, and violent conflict between police and civilians. The lyrics to the song also feature potentially violent connotations: "Got a gun that my granddad gave me / They say one day they're gonna round up / Well, that s--- might fly in the city, good luck / Try that in a small town."

Aldean denied that the song and video had any racial elements. “I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests,” he wrote on social media at the time. “These references are not only meritless, but dangerous. There is not a single lyric in the song that references race.”

Later, Aldean criticized “cancel culture” at a concert, characterizing it as "something that, if people don't like what you say, they try to make sure they can cancel you, which means try to ruin your life, ruin everything."

The 2024 CMT Music Awards, hosted by Kelsea Ballerini, will air on Sunday, April 7, at 8 p.m. on CBS and Paramount+.

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