The turn of the decade will see a major change for the country music community: After 12 consecutive years of hosting the annual CMA Awards, Carrie Underwood is leaving her post — and fans suspect there's bad blood behind the decision.
Underwood made the announcement in an upbeat Instagram post this week, simply saying that "it's hard to imagine topping" the past decade-plus of shows, "so I've decided that it’s time to pass the hosting torch (at least for now!) to others that will cherish it and honor it as much as I do."
Although Underwood didn't allude to any iciness between herself and the Country Music Association, many fans are drawing a connection to its 2019 choice for Entertainer of the Year. Underwood was nominated for the night's biggest award, as were Garth Brooks, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban. Brooks won, breaking his own record for most wins of the category.
"Sad to see you go, but perhaps the CMA will now recognize you for what you deserve," one top comment read.
One of the highlights of 2019 and of my entire career so far was being on stage with the legends that are Reba and Dolly Parton. I’m so proud that we could celebrate the incredible female artists that are part of the legacy of country music, past, present and future, and I’m thankful for the huge audiences all over the world that tuned in to see it. It’s hard to believe that it was my 12th year hosting and I will always treasure every show, from the 11 that I was so lucky to do with my partner in crime and friend for life, Brad Paisley, to sharing the stage with two of my all-time heroes. I’m so incredibly grateful to everyone involved with the CMA Awards all these years. It’s hard to imagine topping what we have accomplished together, so I’ve decided that it’s time to pass the hosting torch (at least for now!) to others that will cherish it and honor it as much as I do. I’ve got so many exciting things coming in the new year and beyond, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for all of us. #blessed #MemorableMoments
A post shared by Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) on Dec 30, 2019 at 11:03am PST
Others echoed the same sentiment: "You deserve much more than that award show ever gave you - so to speak," one fan wrote, while a second chimed in, "I hope to see you get Entertainer of the Year this coming year, as you deserved this last year."
Added another, "I don't blame you at all Carrie. They snubbed you this year and we will always love you despite them."
Underwood has never won the award — in fact, few women ever have. The only female country artists to snag Entertainer of the Year in the past two decades are Taylor Swift and the Dixie Chicks.
RELATED: Carrie Underwood through the years
Gender disparity has long plagued the country music industry; on the red carpet of this year's CMA Awards, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles wore a cape that declared "Play our f--kin' records," a condemnation of country radio's long-held prioritization of male artists.
Underwood alluded to the issue in her Instagram announcement, writing that she was "proud that we could celebrate the incredible female artists that are part of the legacy of country music, past, present and future."
Although the 2019 broadcast labeled itself a night of "celebrating women in country music" and featured an all-female group performance, as Rolling Stone pointed out, "it was business as usual after the medley. The hosts’ opening monologue was funny but mostly toothless, with nary a mention of the gender divide on country radio or why the CMA Awards thought it important to dedicate a night to women in the first place."