CMT has announced that they will honor Linda Martell with the “CMT Equal Play Award” at the 2021 CMT Music Awards airing Wednesday, June 9th. The Equal Play initiative was started in 2019 to bring awareness to the fact that female country acts do not get the same opportunities as their male counterparts in the industry. CMT’s website states, “Women’s powerful voices and legendary songs have defined country music. Yet they are not played, streamed, toured, signed or awarded at a level they deserve. It’s time for us to take action, dramatically increase female representation and create an equal playing field.” In 2020 CMT has instituted 50/50 play for female acts across CMT and their music channels. CMT Radio Live also doubled airplay for female artists with its 50% female playlist.

Linda Martell was a pioneer of the country music genre in the late 1960s; she was the first Black woman to perform at the Grand Ole Opry and has inspired numerous up-and-coming acts. During her career, she had three songs land on the country charts and performed on the popular country music variety show, Hee Haw. Her granddaughter is an independent filmmaker and has set out to create a documentary that showcases Martell’s story and achievements

Mickey Guyton is going to present the award to Martell. Other artists who will participate in the tribute and congratulate her during the awards ceremony include Darius Rucker, Rissi Palmer, Rhiannon Giddens, Carrie Underwood, and Jennifer Nettles, the previous winner of the CMT Equal Play Award. 

The CMT Awards will be broadcasted tomorrow at 8 p.m. ET on CMT, MTV, MTV2, Logo, Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT Australia. 

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