The Women of Country celebrated at last night’s CMA Awards hosted by Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood.
Photo Credit: Curtis Hilbun
“Celebrating legendary women in country music” - the resinating theme of "The 53rd Annual CMA Awards" did not disappoint. The opening number of the show could have very easily been mistaken for the finale as it featured one female country legend after another singing some of the genre’s most moving songs.
Dolly, Reba and Carrie brought the crowd to their feet with harmonies as smooth as a new hairdo, when they kicked the show off with “Those Memories.” Of course, Reba and Carrie were channeling their inner Emmylou and Linda as this song was recorded by Dolly, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris in 1987 on their first Trio album. Jennifer Nettles, Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild held the momentum with Loretta Lynn’s “You’re Lookin’ at Country” with Jennifer fittingly recognizing the first woman to win the Entertainer of the Year award sitting on the front row.
The veil lifted on a second section of the stage revealing Dolly and the Highwomen (Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile and Amanda Shires) with Tammy Wynette’s “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad.” From then the hits just kept coming with Tanya Tucker singing her own “Delta Dawn,” Gretchen Wilson with “Redneck Woman” and Crystal Gale and her classic “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” With her guitar, Terri Clark burst into “Better Things To Do” and Sara Evans rose up with “Born to Fly.” The closer, enter Martina McBride, with the consequential women’s empowerment anthem, “Independence Day.”
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Dolly, Reba and Carrie Shine
Reba, enchanted the crowd with her wardrobe changes while performing her 1991 hit, “Fancy” which didn’t let anybody down. Carrie delivered her jazzy new single, “Drinking Alone.” And Dolly graced the stage with a spiritual number which included her recent collaborations with Zach Williams and for King & Country. She ended with a breath-taking “Have a Little Faith in Me,” her most recent collaboration (with Galantis & Mr. Probz) that landed Dolly her first No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Digital Song Sales Chart.
At the end of his performance of "God's Country," Blake Shelton hugged fiddle player, Jenee Fleenor, congratulating her on her big win. Earlier in the day, she won Musician of the Year. Jenee was not only the first woman to win this award but also the first woman to receive a nomination in the category in the 53-year history of the CMA Awards.