NASHVILLE, Tenn. — This one’s for the girls, during a night when CMT honored all female stars, from Loretta Lynn to Carrie Underwood and Kelsea Ballerini, at their annual Artists of the Year show in an empowering night of lifting up each other.
Underwood ended the show with a medley of iconic songs from Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” to Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” supported by two all-female groups Runaway June and Maddie and Tae.
Sissy Spacek, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Lynn in “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” said Lynn was a trailblazer whose honest lyrics made her unlike any other songwriter in the genre. Lynn, who is 86 and just released a new album, “Wouldn’t It Be Great,” last month, was unable to attend the show and Spacek accepted the honor on her behalf.
Spacek called her “my sister, my best friend” and teared up a bit on stage.
“She’s just direct and authentic,” Spacek told The Associated Press on the red carpet before the show. “She tells it like it is. She can say things that you and I couldn’t say, or would be afraid to say.”
Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town sung “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” with soul icon Gladys Knight. During the show, Fairchild pulled out her iPhone to list off about two dozen women in country music that deserved to get radio play.
“She can dream as big and as far and wide as she can possibly can,” Scott said prior to the show.
Maren Morris was joined by acclaimed singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile in a duet tribute to Aretha Franklin. Morris and her husband and singer Ryan Hurd both dismissed an oft-repeated claim that female country music fans don’t want to listen to many women on country radio, which has often been used as an excuse to limit women on playlists and on radio.
Kelsea Ballerini and Alison Krauss did a cover of “Ghost in This House.” Ballerini said many women that she has looked up to have reached out their hands to her, including Shania Twain, Reba McEntire and Taylor Swift.
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