NASHVILLE • You are a country music legend. Your voice is not in top form on the night, but is it a betrayal if you lip-sync in performing at a prestigious event that is honouring you with its biggest prize?
That debate continues to swirl after many viewers suspected that Garth Brooks was lip-syncing as he performed his latest single, Ask Me How I Know, at last week's Country Music Association (CMA) Awards at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.
At one point, he held the microphone away from his face, but his voice could still be heard.
After the show, Brooks did not make any excuses. He explained to reporters that, with a run of 12 concerts in 10 days, his voice was shot. "We decided to lip-sync it because my voice was just not there and we wanted to represent country music the best we can," he said.
Some people understood, while others thought that was a lame move, especially considering Brooks was awarded entertainer of the year, the most prestigious prize of the night.
As viewers debated his decision to lip-sync, Brooks' fellow country singers started to weigh in.
"I keep a lot of my opinions to myself and respect anyone making music, but as a person who tries to put on the best and most honest show I can night after night... this truly offends me," singer-songwriter Anderson East tweeted.
"I was told country music is three chords and the truth."
Things escalated further when Miranda Lambert, one of the genre's biggest stars who has been dating East for two years, commented on East's Instagram page, where he posted an image of his tweet.
"High Five on this babe," she wrote. "If you can't sing, then don't. It's better to be honest than to pretend. My favourite performances in the show were live live. The truth."
As if that was not enough drama, Lambert's ex-husband, The Voice star Blake Shelton, jumped into the mix to defend Brooks, tweeting "Hey @garthbrooks... I still love you. #hero#respect".
Country star Randy Travis' Twitter account weighed in on the controversy, posting two messages in support of the singer.
One posted on Sunday night seemed to take a jab at East and Lambert with the "our family in music" comment: "A friend, a man, an artist who gives all, always! Our family in music should be the 1st to understand - after you walk in our shoes, get back with us!"
CMA viewers are the type to take lip-syncing quite seriously, considering country music is supposed to be the most authentic format.
Rascal Flatts received similar backlash at the 2014 Academy Of Country Music Awards when lead singer Gary LeVox lost his voice and the trio decided to perform anyway.
The lip-syncing was obvious and ironic, considering the same show had made fun of Britney Spears for not singing live.
But as the debate continues, Brooks appears unfazed.
He will return to the Bridgestone Arena next month as part of his concert tour. On Monday morning, he added a sixth date at the arena.
The first five shows sold out.