A TikTok user named Kristi shared a TikTok video detailing a personal experience with controversial country artist Jason Aldean. The video has now hit viral levels of attention on the platform, sitting at 142,600 likes and over 800,000 views. In the video, Kristi explains that her late daughter was born with spina bifida and was chosen by the Make A Wish Foundation to have her dying wish granted. Make A Wish helps connect children and teenagers’ with terminal illnesses to dream experiences.
Her daughter was a massive fan of another country star, Tim McGraw. McGraw’s team partnered with the organization to provide tickets to Kristi’s family for every upcoming show of his in their native Texas, and met Kristi’s daughter several times. A young Jason Aldean was once an opening act for McGraw, and Kristi alleges that Aldean abruptly stated that he “did not have time” to meet Kristi’s daughter, insinuating that her race and disability disgusted him.
Kristi tagged the singer and invited him to take accountability for his actions. The controversy comes after weeks of backlash surrounding Aldean’s May 2023 single “Try That In A Small Town.” A more recently released accompanying music video included footage of foreign scuffles with police in Europe and Canada, as confirmed by Rolling Stone. The video was also filmed outside of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, the site of a 1927 lynching of a Black teenager.
The track contains what many listeners feel to be “dog whistles” for racism and the Jim Crow South. A dog whistle refers to a “subtly aimed political message which is intended for, and can only be understood by, a particular group,” according to Oxford Languages.
The “small town” Aldean sings about allegedly refers to a sundown town. Sundown towns were specific areas across the U.S. in which it was illegal for Black citizens to be seen there after certain hours, or else they would risk meeting violence or death. A setting sun can be seen at the end of Aldean’s music video, cementing the suspicions about the sundown town reference.
Aldean responded the initial backlash via Twitter and continued to defend the track. The singer continues to share videos of live performances of the song from his ongoing tour.
In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous.…
— Jason Aldean (@Jason_Aldean) July 18, 2023
Thank u guys. Ready to see u back out there this weekend! 🇺🇸🤘🏼 pic.twitter.com/qtH8yUdpLy
— Jason Aldean (@Jason_Aldean) July 24, 2023
Social Media Reactions
Nashville locals, country fans, and culture critics alike continue to slam the singer for his actions. Kristi’s TikTok was met with an outpouring of support. One commenter wrote “I’ve only ever heard good things about Tim McGraw. Your daughter is beautiful! I know she’s always with you.” Comedian Trae Crowder poked fun at the song’s alleged hypocrisy.
Talked about Jason Aldean this weekend. pic.twitter.com/AteCkaNWc4
— Trae Crowder (@traecrowder) July 24, 2023
Fellow Nashville based country-Americana fusion artist Jason Isbell criticized Aldean’s track as lyrically depicting “paranoia” and not the actual systemic issues that plague small southern towns. Isbell grew up in Green Hill, Alabama.
.@JasonIsbell – who just released a new album called “Weathervanes” – on Jason Aldean’s controversial song “Try That in a Small Town:" "The instances in the song are paranoia … Country music should be three chords and the truth, and that's not the truth." pic.twitter.com/T6GnfXgMfm
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) July 25, 2023
Aldean has not responded to Kristi’s TikTok video at this time.