Justin Moore on Awards Show Snubs: ‘It Used to Drive Me Crazy’
Justin Moore is established in a strange group of country hitmakers who never seem to hear their names called come awards season. Group him with Chris Young, Jake Owen, Billy Currington and (lately) Kane Brown as the Rodney Dangerfields of country music — they don't get no respect!
The 36-year-old's new single "Why We Drink" is on track to become his eighth Billboard country airplay No. 1 hit across a consistent, if quiet, 12-year career. If you remove a take-one-for-the-team collaboration with Vince Neil in 2014 and the single that followed, just one song of his last eight radio singles has failed to crack the Top 5 ("Kinda Don't Care" was a Top 20 hit in 2018). Still, he's rarely included in industry conversations of prime-cut country headliners.
"I really don’t know what to attribute that to, to be honest with you,” Moore admits to Taste of Country during a call from his family's vacation home in Destin, Fla. "I’ve literally never been asked to be at the CMA Awards, ever."
This used to bother the Arkansas-raised Moore, and even though he says otherwise, you sense that if he were to dwell on the oversight, it'd still get under his crawl. Officially he's never been nominated for a CMA and has just one nomination and win at the ACM Awards, a 2014 prize for New Artist of the Year that came with some controversy. Moore was onto his third album at the time, which technically disqualified him for the honor, but the voting academy made an exception, and that, of course, created a bit of a dust-up on social media.
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“It used to drive me crazy, you know, when I was younger ... but now? I could (sic) care less," he says. "It is what it is. I know the career that I’ve had and the people in my life that really know me know the career that I’ve had."
Moore put a point on this sentiment when he left Nashville and moved back home to Poyen, Arkansas, several years ago, signaling and end to his willingness to play the game in the same way so many artists do.
Professionally, his goals are simple moving forward: Be able to play live country music whenever he likes and record hit music. Kids can be heard laughing and yelling throughout our conversation — a true sign of the times and a sign of where his priorities rest.
If there's anything Moore's friend and mentor Charlie Daniels taught him, however, it's that the word "hit" can mean many things. The late Country Hall of Famer had just three Top 10 radio singles, but was a force in the genre for decades.
“A guy like Charlie," Moore begins when asked about the important lessons he learned, "at the end of your career, when you’re long gone, it’s gonna be about the impact you made on people with your music."
Moore laid out the impact Daniels had on him in a note on social media after the 83-year-old died on July 6. He recalls the advice Daniels gave him before his first Grand Ole Opry performance when asked for a favorite memory, recalling vividly how the elder singer didn't try to calm him down as much as get him to understand that if he wasn't nervous, it didn't matter. Moore and Daniels were close and comfortable around one another. You can see it when they performed their 2013 collaboration "For Some Ol' Redneck Reason" together shortly after the song's release:
“I could (sic) care less if I ever get on the ACMs or CMAs or whatever, because Charlie Daniels told me he’s proud of me and he loves me,” Moore says.
That sure sounds like a "hit," doesn't it?
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