The following is from a press release:
CMT announced that country music pioneer Linda Martell will be recognized with the CMT Equal Play Award during the 2021 CMT Music Awards on June 9.
Some of the genre’s biggest names, including Mickey Guyton, Darius Rucker, Jennifer Nettles, Carrie Underwood, Rissi Palmer and Rhiannon Giddens will congratulate Martell during this year’s awards as CMT highlights her place in music history as the first Black female solo country artist to perform on the Grand Ole Opry stage, along with her other boundary-defying achievements.
In releasing three pop-country singles at the turn of the 1970s, including an unprecedented Top-20 Billboard Hot Country Charts single “Color Him Father” in 1969, Martell’s success and bittersweet subsequent country career changed the arc of country music history forever. It also provided the most profound case for supporting marginalized artists in country music and the music industry overall.
“Linda Martell is a living legend who has influenced so many artists of color, giving them the courage and hope to pursue their dreams and a future reality of Equal Play in country music,” said Leslie Fram, Senior Vice President, Music & Talent, CMT. “Linda embodies the spirit of our ‘Equal Play’ initiative and we are proud to honor her with this prestigious award.”
Artist Rissi Palmer stresses the importance of Equal Play and her gratitude to Linda: “Equal Play is imperative to the genre. It’s how we go forward and paint a broader, more complex picture of what country music is and who country music represents. Thank you, Linda, for being brave, fearless, talented and beautiful, and for putting yourself out there, even when it was difficult. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award.”
Known for its continuing work in elevating underrepresented voices in country music, CMT’s Equal Play initiative was originally launched in 2019 in response to the lack of female representation in country music, specifically radio and streaming services. CMT Equal Play is designed to encourage and promote measurable industry-wide action and create an ongoing path for parity and diversity. CMT has committed to incorporating Equal Play across all of its platforms, including CMT Radio, and the creation of its own music video channel on ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV, dedicated to a 50/50, female/male playlist.
The 2021 CMT Awards air June 9 at 7 PM CST on CMT, MTV, MTV2, Logo, Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT Australia. We’ll be live-tweeting during the show so make sure you’re following us on Twitter.