It’s been an ongoing theme and a hot button topic in almost all conversations revolving around country music for the past several years and the Country Music Association put their money where their mouth is by making the focus of the 53rd annual CMA Awards about women in country, including legends and rising stars.
The show kicked off with host Carrie Underwood and her special guest hosts, Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton, performing “Those Memories of You,” recorded by Dolly, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. They were then joined by Jennifer Nettles, Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman, The Highwomen, Tanya Tucker, Gretchen Wilson, Crystal Gayle, Terri Clark, Sara Evans and Martina McBride for a medley of country hits including Loretta Lynn’s “You’re Lookin’ at Country,” Tammy Wynette’s “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” and Martina’s “Independence Day.”
Later in the evening, the rising stars of the format had their own glittering collaboration that started with Kelsea Ballerini doing a stripped-down acoustic version of “Homecoming Queen” before being joined by her friends and fellow young artists Lindsay Ell, Little Big Town, Maddie and Tae, Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce and Runaway June for a cover of “Girl Crush.
Of course, the women who weren’t on the stage for either of these performances could be spotted in the audience singing along.
Carrie, Dolly and Reba set the tone for a fun night of celebrating country music, no matter who recorded it, though. Early in the show, Carrie joked that she loved working with the two legends, but bemoaned sharing a dressing room with her co-hosts.
“You know, standing here with Dolly and Reba means the world to me and I have loved every second of working with them, except maybe the part about us all sharing a dressing room,” she joked. “It’s a fog of hairspray and shoes and costume changes. There are racks of clothes and dresses everywhere. And, for some reason, Dolly’s rack is so much bigger.”
Dolly, of course, chimed in saying, “Dolly’s rack IS so much bigger.” She then added, “I might have been as tall as you girls if I hadn’t got so bunched up at the top.”
[RELATED: Country Music Spotlights the Women of Country Including Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire and More on CMA Awards]
Later, as the ladies singled out different artists for their upcoming performances in the evening, Carrie commented on how much Kacey Musgraves and Willie Nelson, who sang a duet later, had in common: “Both are incredible songwriters. Both have luscious locks. And both enjoy a nice, tall glass of Willie’s Reserve.” A puzzled Dolly asked, “Did you say glass? Don’t you mean grass,” hinting at the pair’s penchant for a toke from time to time.
Although hopeful Carrie fans were disappointed that their favorite didn’t take home the Entertainer of the Year win, Kacey Musgraves took home a pair of trophies (Female Vocalist and Video), Maren Morris earned the Album of the Year win for Girl, Ashley McBryde was named New Artist of the Year and multi-instrumentalist Jenee Fleenor became the first woman to win the Musician of the Year.
Congratulations to the women who were so well represented, and to all of the winners and nominees, women and men.