When Chris Stapleton and Dave Cobb accepted the 2017 CMA Award for album of the year inside Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, outside the venue Grammy winner Sturgill Simpson busked and met with fans for a cause. All tips in his Grammy trophy went to the American Civil Liberties Union.
His performance was captured on Facebook Live, a local news crew and a gathering of loyal fans.
When asked why he wanted to be part of Country's Biggest Night, he simply pointed to the fans around him and said, "Them."
Simpson said he probably wouldn't attend the CMA Awards if he was invited to go, but he did have interest in applying for credential to see the backstage media center.
"I feel extremely uncomfortable in those situations," he revealed. "The Grammys, that one is being recognized by all your musical peers. That would be insulting to me to not go to that. I think that does have merit. I'm not sure how the voting on all this works. I really don't know. But just the general air and the atmosphere, it's not something I find particularly easy to exist in I guess."
He added that he wanted everyone at the CMA Awards to never be afraid to freely express themselves.
"I just want them to know to say what they really think," Simpson said. "There are a lot of things going on right now, there's a lot of pressures from their bosses and the labels to not say anything that would jeopardize album sales. ... if I'm not afraid to destroy my career then why would somebody literally with millions of dollars ever be afraid to not speak their mind. I wish a lot more people in positions of power wouldn't avoid saying things that probably need to be said right now. That's it."
Simpson had a few signs with him by his guitar case. One of them read: "I don't take requests, but I take questions about anything you want to talk about because fascism sucks..."