CMT’s Artists of the Year celebration has gone to the girls.
All seven of the 2018 honorees are female artists: Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Little Big Town‘s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman, and Lady Antebellum‘s Hillary Scott. In addition, country music legend Loretta Lynn was honored as the 2018 recipient of the Artist of a Lifetime Award.
This marks the first time in the ceremony’s eight-year history that the roster of honorees features all-female artists.
Leslie Fram, CMT’s Senior Vice President of Music and Talent explained why the network chose to focus its annual special on female artists this year:
“…We’re evolving the special to reflect what’s happening right now in culture and in the lives of our fans,” Fram said in a statement quoted by Rolling Stone. “In this monumental year for women, dedicating one of the biggest nights in the genre to applaud female country artists not only solidifies our commitment, but we hope will spark a much-needed change in the industry.”
The seven honorees were also given performance slots during the 90-minute special, which aired on Wednesday night (October 17). All of the honorees’ performances were collaborative, resulting in an immense showcase of talent.
Some of the honorees, such as Underwood, performed with fellow country stars (in her case, future Cry Pretty tour openers Maddie & Tae and Runaway June). Others, such as Scott, sang with artists outside of the country genre.
The two artists who joined Scott for her performance were pop star Tori Kelly and gospel singer Kirk Franklin.
While it may seem random that Scott was matched with Kelly and Franklin, it really isn’t. Kelly has experience in the country genre already, having been featured on Chris Lane’s Top Ten hit, “Take Back Home Girl.”
Franklin and Kelly are also familiar with each other, as they worked together on her latest single, “Never Alone.”
The song was released to gospel radio, and climbed as high as the second spot on the genre’s Billboard chart.
So where does Scott’s connection come in to all of this?
She also sings gospel music, with her first gospel record, Love Remains, being released with her family (including her mom, country icon Linda Davis) in 2016.
The record went on to win a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.
So while the general public may not have been unsure of what to expect from Scott, Kelly, and Franklin, those familiar with the artists knew they were in for a heavenly performance.
That’s exactly what the three artists delivered.
The performance started with Scott and Kelly singing the Lady Antebellum hit, “American Honey.” The duo then began to sing the gospel favorite “Never Alone” as the backdrop moved to reveal a gospel choir and Kirk Franklin.
The group brought everyone to their feet as they began to sing the old gospel standard,”Oh, Happy Day.” The audience clapped and sang along with the familiar lyrics and it is a performance that is sure to have people talking for days to come. Relive all of its splendor by tuning in to the video below.
Watching this, it’s easy to see why Scott was named as one of CMT’s Artists of the Year. Congratulations to her!