There is a decidedly different mood surrounding the 2019 CMA Awards, something special that has overtaken the usual focus of Country music’s biggest night. As the evening approaches the talk typically centers on Entertainer of the Year or what surprise collaboration people will be talking about the next morning, but this year as stars like Garth Brooks, Keith Urban, and Old Dominion gather before the show, it’s all about the women of Country music.
Carrie Underwood will be joined by Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire, hosting a night that’s been earmarked as a celebration of the legendary women of Country music. Three of the most powerful performers in the history of the genre gather to brighten the spotlight on a section of Country music everyone seems to agree is underserved. Not only is it a tribute to the trailblazers of before, but the side effect has been a push forward for today’s stars like Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini.
“I feel like the opening performance being all women is just going to make such a huge statement and kind of set the tone for the rest of the night,” Maddie Marlow of Maddie & Tae says of the massive medley featuring generations of female Country stars. Gretchen Wilson, Jennifer Nettles, Tanya Tucker, and more join the trio of hosts for a tour through decades of hits to kick off the show.
WATCH MORE: CMA Awards Performance Preview With Dan + Shay, Lady Antebellum, And Old Dominion
“The female artists in Country music right now are, have been, and always will be – but especially seemingly right now, such a force in the genre,” Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum shares. “For Carrie Underwood to be hosting the show with Dolly and Reba at her side, I just think that it sets the tone for what will be a focus on the females night, which I think is awesome.”
Even beyond the women in Country music, who clearly feel more seen this year than ever before, there’s a celebration and a sentiment that the time is now for this. “With three daughters, and married to one of the greatest singers of any genre, that’s female – I’m all for it,” Garth Brooks tells us.
“Our genre really needs to step it up,” echoes his wife Trisha Yearwood. “What the CMAs are doing to really shine a light on all the girls is well deserved and I’m excited to see it.”
“The lack of representation of women in this format is pretty obvious,” Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion adds. “I think it’s a great way to showcase the talent of women that are in the field.”
WATCH MORE: Luke Combs Has A Question For Carrie Underwood Before The 2019 CMA Awards
Much more than ceremonial, the 2019 CMA Awards have brought an important conversation to the center. It’s been an undercurrent over the past few years and in the background of award shows, but to see it take center stage and priority looks like progress in action.
“You can’t look at the history of Country music and not talk about every female that’s involved in that opening,” says Kelsea Ballerini. “They’re legends, and they’re part of the thread of Country music that allows me as a new female to have a chance, and a path.”
“I just can’t wait to sit in the audience and soak it up. It’s going to be really powerful”
For more thoughts from Keith Urban, Midland, Ryan Hurd, and more, watch the full exclusive video above. The 2019 CMA Awards happen on Wednesday November 13 at 8PM ET / 7PM CT on ABC.
Be sure to check out more of our coverage hosted by Luke Combs, including the CMA Red Carpet Countdown one hour before the show starts, right here and on the RADIO.COM app.