Gay Nashville Publicist Joey Amato Quoted in Billboard Magazine After Announcement of Mike Huckabee to Country Music Association Board of Directors

Huckabee Has Since Resigned from the Board Amid Industry Protest

In an article published by Billboard Magazine, Nashville-based LGBT publicist Joey Amato is quoted criticizing the decision of the Country Music Association for inviting Mike Huckabee to join its Board of Directors. Historically known for being conservative, Nashville’s country music industry was outraged by this decision and some industry executives threatened to pull funding of the organization due to Huckabee’s stance on the LGBTQ community.

“I have heard nothing but negative comments from those working in the industry on this decision,” he said. “From my own personal perspective, when I moved to Nashville seven years ago, Music Row was still pretty closeted. There were LGBT people that worked on the Row, but they weren’t as open about it as they are now. We’ve come so far in just those seven years, with people being proud of who they are now and everyone being so supportive of everyone else, it seems so contrary to what Mike Huckabee’s agenda is. He’s been openly vocal on being anti-LGBT throughout his entire career, and currently, so it seems like this decision is neither productive nor was given much thought [by the CMA]. I know people who identify as LGBT in every single record label on the Row — managers, agents, producers, promoters — and it seems like a move specifically made as a slap in the face to those people.”

The first person to speak up against the CMA was Jason Owen, head of Sandbox Entertainment whose clients include country artists Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves and Faith Hill. Owen sent the CMA Foundation a letter Thursday declaring that neither he nor his artists would support the association in any way going forward.

Owen then told Billboard: “All the labels are really supporting my stance, with the loudest being [founder of Big Machine Label Group, and CMA Board Director at Large] Scott Borchetta. He has called for an emergency meeting [of the CMA Board] to get this rectified ASAP. Props to him for sure.”