2018 CMT Artists of the Year – An Epic Night of Women in Country Music

Carrie Underwood, Runaway June and Maddie & Tae at CMT Artists of the Year ceremony. Photo by Rick Diamond / Getty Images via CMT.com

Carrie Underwood, Runaway June and Maddie & Tae at CMT Artists of the Year ceremony. Photo by Rick Diamond / Getty Images via CMT.com

Wednesday evening (Oct 17.),  in Nashville at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, CMT’s 2018 Artists of the Year ceremony honored women of country, including Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Carrie Underwood, Hillary Scott, Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman, and for Country Artist of a Lifetime Award to Loretta Lynn. It was the perfect step towards changing the conversation to an action of supporting women in country music.

The night started off with Miranda Lambert and her band the Pistol Annies singing their new cut “Sugar Daddy,” which is on their on their upcoming record Interstate Gospel. Lambert voiced her opinion on supporting women in the industry and how we always have to be there for each other.

Kelsea Ballerini joined Alison Krauss to perform a beautiful rendition of Krauss’ classic, “Ghost In This House” and then accepted her award from Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott.

Alison Krauss and Kelsea Ballerini at CMT Artists of the Year ceremony. Photo by Jason Kempin / Getty Images via CMT.com

Alison Krauss and Kelsea Ballerini at CMT Artists of the Year ceremony. Photo by Jason Kempin / Getty Images via CMT.com

“One of the greatest gifts that have been given to me as a new artist on this short journey that I’ve been on so far is having people that I grew up listening to and that I’ve learned from, turn around and reach out their hand to me,” Ballerini said. “They’ve shared their stage with me and shared their platform with me and I think what I’ve learned from that is to lift each other up, to support each other, and to share our stage no matter how big or small it is.”

Maren Morris brought sass and R&B into her performance, where she joined Brandi Carlile on stage to put their own spin on Aretha Franklin’s soulful hit “Natural Woman” in tribute to the legend who passed away earlier this year. Accepting her award from Sheryl Crow, Morris voiced on how thankful she was that CMT was shining the light on the lack of female representation and putting this night together. She also said how she feels that the females in this room are putting out the most compelling and emotional music right now.

Hillary Scott performed with pop star Tori Kelly and gospel singer Kirk Franklin with an inspiring showing of Lady Antebellum’s hit “American Honey,” Kelly’s new single “Never Alone,” and Franklin’s track “Oh Happy Day.” Following Scott, Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild performed with the soulful legend Gladys Knight for a mashup of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” which brought chills and a standing ovation through the Symphony Center.

Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman with Gladys Knight at CMT Artists of the Year ceremony. Photo by Jason Kempin / Getty Images via CMT.com

A standout moment was when Fairchild humbly included 35 up-and-coming women artists to look out for and support through their new projects in her speech including our past Swag Spotlights, Jillian Jacqueline, Abby Anderson, Tenille Townes, Runaway June, and Natalie Stovall. Take a look at the chilling moment in the video here.

Sadly, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Loretta Lynn wasn’t able to attend the ceremony to accept her award but her lifetime friend and actress Sissy Spacek was happy and tearful accepting the award on her behalf. Spacek seemed overwhelmingly thrilled and proud to talk about her dear friend and their everlasting friendship.

Lastly, Carrie Underwood brought out her opening acts for her 2019 Cry Pretty 360 Tour, Maddie & Tae, and Runaway June. Underwood began her performance with an acapella version of Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man,” and then Maddie & Tae joined in with “Rockin’ with the Rhythm,” by the Judds. Underwood then continued with a rousing rendition of Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” giving everyone a blast from the past. Runaway June added their touch with singing “Wild One” by Faith Hill. The artists then ended with a powerful performance of Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” and harmonizing on Underwood’s single “Cry Pretty.”

CMT gave everyone a taste of what’s to come for females in country music. It was the perfect opportunity to show everyone that the future is female and female artists aren’t going anywhere but up from here.

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