It was all about strong women at last night’s annual CMT Artists of the Year ceremony! In a night usually dominated by male country artists, CMT decided to specifically honor female country singers — including longtime favorites like Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert — and their contribution to the world of country music. Scroll below to see all the honorees!
Carrie, who is pregnant with her second child, praised CMT for taking this year to focus on women’s contribution to country music.
“Thank you, CMT, for doing this. We need more things like this,” she said when accepting her award, presented to her by her “The Fighter” collaborator, Keith Urban. She then added, “But I definitely want to say to all of the incredible, amazing talented women that have been on this stage tonight: You are not here because you are women. You are here because you are dang good."
Carrie’s fellow country superstar, Miranda, also took time during her speech to praise her fellow female artists. "I was so excited and proud when I saw this whole show was dedicated to these amazing women who have all inspired me. I'm thrilled to celebrate how hard we work tonight, and how much we are a community as women and lift each other up and respect each other,” she said.
Miranda made sure to include her all-female band Pistol Annies in the evening’s lineup. The trio, which also includes Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, performed the song “Sugar Daddy” from their upcoming album Interstate Gospel.
Honoree Kelsea Ballerini thanked female artists like Shania Twain and Reba McEntire for teaching her “how important it is to lift each other up.”
She later received a standing ovation for her performance of “Ghost in this House” with Alison Krauss.
Honoree Maren Morris arrived at the event with her husband Ryan Hurd by her side.
The “My Church” singer took to the stage with Brandi Carlisle to perform Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” during the show.
Honoree Hillary Scott received support from her Lady Antebellum bandmates Dave Harywood and Charles Kelly at the ceremony.
Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild, who make up the female half of the band Little Big Town, were both honored at the event.
After partnering up with Gladys Knight for a performance of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” Karen took a full 45 seconds to name a list of 35 up-and-coming female country artists she wanted to recognize.
The moment went viral on Twitter, with several of the female artists tweeting their thanks — and their shock — at Karen’s shout out.
What do you think of CMT focusing on female country singers during this year's ceremony? Who’s your favorite female country artist? Sound off in the comments below!