In recognition of the undeniable influence and impact of female artists in country music, CMT today announced that for the first-time ever the annual “CMT Artists of the Year” special is dedicated to the women of country music—past, present and future. This year’s all-female “Artists of the Year” celebration will honor Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman, and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott. The 90-minute special will premiere on Wednesday, October 17 at 8:00 PM, ET/PT only on CMT.
“This year, we’re evolving the special to reflect what’s happening right now in culture and in the lives of our fans,” said Leslie Fram, Senior Vice President of Music & Talent, CMT. “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.”
As in past years, the event will feature surprise musical pairings and guests that will be announced at a later date. In addition, CMT will further its commitment to female artists through a day-long “Women of Country Music” takeover across all CMT platforms where music lives including music hours on CMT, the 24/7 digital channel CMT Music and CMT Radio’s widely-syndicated shows “CMT Radio LIVE” and “CMT After Midnite” to encourage and inspire increased female airplay on October 17.
A staunch advocate for country music’s female artists, CMT launched its dedicated “Next Women of Country” campaign in 2013 as a way to give female artists voice and airplay across all CMT platforms. The franchise has received critical acclaim, and in five years since launch CMT has expanded to include tours, digital programming and more. Ballerini and Morris are both alumnae of the “Next Women” franchise.
Last year’s special notched its highest ratings to date and ranked as the most watched in the event’s eight-year history. More than 1.1 million fans tuned in to the premiere telecast and the encore. Socially, #CMTAOTY trended nationally on Twitter during the show and the special ranked as the #1 Most Social Entertainment Program in Primetime on Cable.
Previous “CMT Artists of the Year” performances have included Adele and Darius Rucker performing Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now;” Meghan Trainor, Jill Scott and Kelsea Ballerini honoring Shania Twain with a medley of her biggest hits; Jason Aldean, Keith Urban and Chris Stapleton in a moving Tom Petty tribute with “I Won’t Back Down;” Adam Lambert and Leona Lewis paying tribute to Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush;” and Maroon 5 covering Taylor Swift’s “Mine.” The show has featured appearances by Ellen DeGeneres, Matthew McConaughey, Selena Gomez, Billy Bob Thornton, Roger Clemens, Morgan Freeman, the cast of Nashville and more.
Former “CMT Artists of the Year” honorees include Blake Shelton (2015), Brad Paisley (2011), Carrie Underwood (2010, 2012, 2016), Cast of “Nashville” (2015), Chris Stapleton (2015, 2016, 2017), Eric Church(2012), Florida Georgia Line (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), Hunter Hayes (2013), Jason Aldean (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), Keith Urban (2017), Kelsea Ballerini (2016), Kenny Chesney (2011, 2012), Kenny Rogers (2015), Lady Antebellum (2010, 2011), Little Big Town (2015), Luke Bryan (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), Merle Haggard (2014), Miranda Lambert (2012, 2014), Sam Hunt (2015, 2017), Shania Twain(2016), Taylor Swift (2010, 2011), Thomas Rhett (2016), Tim McGraw (2013) and Toby Keith (2012.)
CMT is the leading authority on country music and lifestyle, offering a mix of original series, music events and specials. CMT is everywhere its fans are including two cable channels (CMT and the 24-hour music channel, CMT Music), radio (CMT Radio), digital (CMT App, CMT.com) and social (CMT on Facebook, CMT on Instagram and CMT on Twitter). CMT is a unit of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB). For more information, please visit CMT Press.