Country music stars raised speculation that singing legend Charley Pride, who died Saturday from COVID-19 complications at 86, contracted the coronavirus at the Country Music Awards. The ceremony was held indoors Nov. 11 at the Music City Center in Nashville, with some attendees sitting maskless at tables, Deadline noted.
The awards show denied the chatter, saying it tested participants extensively and that Pride tested negative several times after returning home. But a Twitter exchange between singers Maren Morris and Mickey Guyton, who attended the show, continued to make the rounds.
“I don’t want to jump to conclusions because no family statement has been made. But if this was a result of the CMAs being indoors, we should all be outraged. Rest in power, Charley,” Morris wrote, according to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She has since deleted the tweet.
“Gurl I thought the same damn thing.” Guyton replied, per Deadline. She later tweeted, “We need answers as to how Charley Pride got covid.”
Singer Brandi Carlile also replied, saying, “Honestly you’re right to acknowledge what everyone is wondering & as usual YOU have a lot to lose for asking the question.”
On Sunday, Guyton posted a broken hearts emoji with a retweet echoing the CMA’s assertion that Pride tested negative after the show.
Pride, country music’s first Black superstar, received a Lifetime Achievement Award on the show and sang his hit “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin.′ ”
The CMAs and reps for Pride issued a joint statement emphasizing that the show adhered to stringent safety standards.
“Everyone affiliated with the CMA Awards followed strict testing protocols outlined by the city health department and unions,” the statement said, according to the Star-Telegram. “Charley was tested prior to traveling to Nashville. He was tested upon landing in Nashville, and again on show day, with all tests coming back negative.”
“After returning to Texas following the CMA Awards, Charley again tested negative multiple times,” the statement continued. “All of us in the Country Music community are heartbroken by Charley’s passing. Out of respect for his family during their grieving period, we will not be commenting on this further.”
Some artists, including a member of Rascal Flatts, had to drop out of the awards after testing positive.