NASHVILLE, TN (CelebrityAccess) — Less than a day after the Country Music Association announced that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had joined their board of directors, the governor resigned from the post amid mounting criticism from the music industry.
Huckabee announced his quick resignation in a letter to CMA’s board of directors, obtained by the Nashville Tennessean. In the letter, Huckabee wrote:
“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.”
Huckabee, an outspoken social conservative, who has weighed in extensively on same-sex marriage in recent years, drew an immediate reaction from labels, agents, artists, managers and fans who threatened to boycott the CMA.
One such round of criticism came from Jason Owen, co-president of Monument Records and owner of Sandbox Entertainment. According to the Nashville Tennessean, Owen sent a letter to the CMA, stating that his companies and the artists they represent — including some big names in country music such as Faith Hill, Little Big Town, and Kacey Musgraves — would no longer support the CMA.
“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,” he wrote in the email, published on the industry web site, Hits Daily Double.
“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. ”
Huckabee has taken a strident stance on issues relating to gay rights in recent years, once describing homosexuality as “aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle.” He has also advocated for restrictions on gay marriage, or gay couples adopting children.
Owen and his husband, Sam, have a young son and are expecting twins, the Kansas City Star reported.
Other criticism came from Whitney Pastorek, an artist manager who represents Kristian Bush of Sugarland. In a letter to the CMA obtained by the Tennessean, Pastorek wrote:
“What a terrible disappointment to see (the CMA Foundation’s) mission clouded by the decision to align with someone who so frequently engages in the language of racism, sexism, and bigotry.”
“While Gov. Huckabee’s tenure in Arkansas may have resulted in valuable education reform over a decade ago, I find his choice to spend the past ten years profiting off messages of exclusion and hatred (not to mention the gun lobby) to be disqualifying.”
Below, we have included Governor Huckabee’s full resignation letter, per the Tennessean.
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!