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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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.
Women in Country Music will unite for a historic, not-to-be-missed opening performance at “The 53rd Annual CMA Awards.” The groundbreaking number led by Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton will also feature Terri Clark, Sara Evans, Crystal Gayle, The Highwomen (comprised of Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires), Martina McBride, Jennifer Nettles, Tanya Tucker and Gretchen Wilson, each performing iconic Country songs for a monumental decades-spanning medley never before seen.
In addition to the incredible opening, Country Music’s Biggest Night™ will be hosted by Carrie Underwood with special guest hosts Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton, celebrates legendary women in Country Music throughout the broadcast, airing live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Wednesday, November 13 at 8/7c on the ABC Television Network.
Don't miss "The 53rd Annual CMA Awards," this historic opening or awesome performances from Dolly Parton with for KING & COUNTRY and Zach Williams, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley with Sheryl Crow, Chris Janson and John Osborne, Brooks & Dunn with Brothers Osborne, Garth Brooks with Blake Shelton, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Lady Antebellum and Halsey, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves with Willie Nelson, Old Dominion, P!NK and Chris Stapleton, Blake Shelton, Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood, and Keith Urban.
For more information on “The 53rd Annual CMA Awards,” please visit CMAawards.com.
"The 53rd Annual CMA Awards" will celebrate the legendary women of Country Music. Host Carrie Underwood will be joined by two of the genre's legendary artists and Country Music Hall of Fame members, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire. Combined, these three ladies hold 124 CMA Awards nominations and 22 total wins. Of the total wins, 11 are for Female Vocalist of the Year - Carrie Underwood (2006, 2007, 2008, 2016, 2018), Dolly Parton (1975, 1976) and Reba McEntire (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987). In addition, the three superstars hold a combined 14 nominations in the Entertainer of the Year category, with Dolly receiving the award in 1978 and Reba winning in 1986.
“It’s an incredible honor to welcome Carrie, Reba and Dolly to the CMA Awards stage this year,” says Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “In addition to awarding the year’s best and brightest in the genre, ‘The 53rd Annual CMA Awards’ will celebrate the legacy of women within Country Music, and we couldn’t think of a more dynamic group of women to host the show.” Dolly expressed her excitement on Twitter saying,
"Let’s go girls! I’m so excited to be joining [Carrie Underwood] and [Reba McEntire] to celebrate the legendary women of country music as a guest host of this year’s #CMAawards on November 13"
Final nominees for "The 53rd Annual CMA Awards" will be announced Wednesday, Aug. 28 live during ABC’s “Good Morning America” from their Times Square studio in New York and via livestream following the broadcast.
Watch Dolly, Carrie and Reba shine on Country Music's Biggest Night set for November 13 at 8|7c on ABC. "The 53rd Annual CMA Awards" is a production of the Country Music Association. Robert Deaton is the Executive Producer, Alex Rudzinski is the Director, and David Wild is the Head Writer.
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The CMA Awards nominees and winners are determined by the more than 6,300 industry professional members of CMA, which when established in 1958 became the first trade organization formed to promote an individual genre of music. The first CMA Awards Banquet and Show was held in 1967. The following year, the CMA Awards was broadcast on NBC television for the first time – making it the longest-running, annual music awards program on network television. The show aired on NBC through 1971 and on the CBS Television Network from 1972 through 2005 before moving in 2006 to ABC, where it is set to air through 2021.
CMA is dedicated to bringing the poetry and emotion of Country Music to the world. We will continue the tradition of leadership and professionalism, promoting the music, and recognizing excellence in all its forms. While fostering a spirit of community and sharing, we will respect and encourage creativity and the unique contributions of all. CMA will be a place to have fun and celebrate success. We will take risks, embrace change, and always exceed the expectations of those we serve.
Dolly was honored with the Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 3, 2006, along with classical music conductor Zubin Mehta, musical artist Smokey Robinson, motion picture director Steven Spielberg, and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. The award recognizes a performing artist’s lifetime contribution to American culture.
Steve Buckingham, Dolly’s longtime record producer, was not surprised by the honor at all because he feels Dolly’s impact has been "huge... not just because of her body of work as a singer and songwriter and an actress but her philanthropic work... That impact isn't limited to this country [U.S.]... I've been around different parts of the world with her, the U.K., Switzerland, Amsterdam, Paris... There's no place you go... that people don't know her. I always say, the one thing you never hear when you're anywhere with her is, `I wonder if that's Dolly Parton?' because there's no doubt."
Artists who performed or delivered remarks on Dolly’s behalf at the ceremony were actress Reese Witherspoon and musical performers Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Carrie Underwood, Alison Krauss, Suzanne Cox, Cheryl White, Shania Twain, Vince Gill and Jessica Simpson.
President George W. Bush praised the honorees for “enriching the cultural life of our country."