CMT’s Annual Artist of the Year celebration took place last night at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and it was definitely the year of the woman. This year’s entire honoree class was all female, including Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott.
Loretta Lynn was also honored with the Artist of a Lifetime Award, but sadly was unable to attend. Earlier in the day she shared on Facebookthat she was sick, but would be watching and be “there in spirit.” “I am so thankful for this award…and for all these amazing female artists celebrating tonight,” she offered. “This is your night, too. I want all my fans and friends to have fun tonight. I love y'all and can't wait to see again you soon.”
- Loretta did receive quite a salute though with a special performance that started with Martina McBride singing “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take Man,” followed by Dierks Bentley and Sheryl Crow, who performed “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man.” Sissy Spacek, who won an Oscar for playing Loretta in “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” was on hand to pay tribute to the legendary singer, noting “I loved playing Loretta…I just loved being her.” Choking up Sissy called the legendary singer, “my cheerleader, my sister, my best friend.” She then added that Loretta said it best when she noted, “it’s about dagum time we recognized women.”
- The theme of the whole night was definitely female artists lifting each other up, with many of this year’s honorees mentioning it in their acceptance speeches. Miranda said she was “thrilled to celebrate how hard we work…and how much we are a community as women and how much we lift each other up and respect each other,” while Kelsea thanked CMT for being “the one to change a conversation into an action,” adding “this is amazing and brilliant.” Carrie ended the night by reminding all of this year’s honorees “you are not here because you are women, you are here because you are dang good.”
All of this year’s honorees performed during the ceremony, and blew the audience away. Performances included:
- The show opened with Miranda and her band Pistol Annies, all dressed in shades of green, performing the track “Sugar Daddy,” from their upcoming album “Internet Gospel.”
- Kelsea was joined by Alison Krauss to perform one of her favorite songs, Krauss’ “Ghost In This House,” which earned a standing ovation and had the star-studded audience singing along.
- Maren was joined by Brandi Carlile for a salute to Aretha Franklin, performing the classic “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman,” which wowed the crowd.
- Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott brought Tori Kelly and gospel artist Kirk Franklin with her to perform Lady A’s “American Honey,” followed by “Never Alone” and “Oh Happy Day.”
- Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman teamed up with the legendary Gladys Knight to sing the Bonnie Raitt classic “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” followed by “Help Me Make It Through The Night."
- Carrie closed the show and used her performance to pay tribute to country music females past, present and future, joined by her “Cry Pretty” tourmates Maddie & Tae and Runaway June. They performed a medley that included Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” Dolly Parton’s “Nine To Five,” The Judds’ “Rockin’ with the Rhythm of the Rain,” Martina McBride’s “Independence Day,” Faith Hill’s “Wild One,” Reba McEntire’s “Why Haven’t I Heard From You,” Shania Twain’s“Feel Like A Woman,” and Carrie’s “Cry Pretty.”