One day ahead of the CMA Awards, CMT honored many of country music’s talented female artists during its sixth annual CMT Next Women Of Country showcase, held Tuesday (Nov. 13) at Nashville’s City Winery.
“We all in this room have the collective power for change, positive change,” said CMT’s Leslie Fram, who hosted the event alongside Cassadee Pope. “Sometimes that means being bold, changing the rules, making new rules, so we can get back home to where we used to be. I mean a home where there is an equal playing field for female artists.”
Since launching in 2013, CMT’s Next Women of Country has honored 64 talented female artists.
Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild, who memorably used her acceptance speech during the all-female CMT’s Artist Of the Year event last month to highlight 35 female country artists worthy of radio support, was on hand to announce the Class of 2019.
This year’s Class of 2019 includes Anna Vaus, Emily Hackett, Ingrid Andress, Lainey Wilson, Lauren Duski, Leah Turner, Rachel Wammack, Stephanie Quayle and Tenille Townes.
Hit songwriter and Puxico creator Natalie Hemby presented Maren Morris with the 2018 Impact Award, which honors someone who has made strides at radio, touring, sales and more over the previous year.
“A lot has changed in such a short amount of time,” Morris said. “I remember playing this two years ago. I am so in tune with what is going on in Nashville with women right now and so excited. I was just talking to Cassadee, The Sisterhood, Natalie. These women are so f-ing good and deserve this platform and eventually country radio is going to get its shit together and play everyone.”
Several female artists, including members of the Class of 2019, offered two writers’ rounds, with Vaus offering the tender “The Bullet and The Gun,” while Clare Dunn was all swagger and sass on “More.”
Sony Nashville artist Rachel Wammack reflected on her artist journey so far, before offering a piano-based rendition of her debut single, “Damage,” which she wrote about her experiences tending a bar in Nashville.
“I’ve been here two years and the Nashville community has supported me. Shout out to anyone who has been a bartender,” she said.
“Or supported bartenders,” quipped Dunn.
“All you need is a handful of champions, and since 2004 Leslie [Fram] has been that for me,” said Kelleigh Bannen, before singing a vulnerable, warm rendering of her single “Happy Birthday.”
Lauren Duski encouraged attendees to be their authentic selves on her song “Costume Party.”
“I didn’t really allow myself to fully pursue and chase this dream until a year and a half ago,” she said. “I realized I had allowed fear and the opinions of others and all these insecurities to hold me back from doing the one thing I love and what gives me life, which is music. But it brought me this song and brought me to a place where I know what I want to say as a woman….and a someone who is probably always going to be a work in progress and that’s ok.”
Carly Pearce offered a rendition of her No. 1 single, “Every Little Thing,” followed by new Warner signee Ingrid Andress, who thrilled with celebration of individuality and so-called imperfection on “Ladylike.” Tenille Townes brought a reflective look at homelessness on “Somebody’s Daughter.”
Sony duo The Sisterhood Band closed out the afternoon with a righteously defiant singalong on “Half Way.”
It was also announced that Pope, who was included in CMT Next Women of Country’s inaugural class, will also headline the 2019 CMT Next Women of Country tour, which will also feature Clare Dunn and Hannah Ellis.
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