The 2019 CMA Awards kicked off with a star-studded tribute to the women of country music.
Co-hosts Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire gave viewers a dose of country music history opening the show with an all-star medley honoring generations of female country artists alongside The Highwomen, Martina McBride, Tanya Tucker, Sara Evans, Terri Clark, Jennifer Nettles, Gretchen Wilson and Crystal Gayle.
The medley launched with Underwood, Parton and McEntire tipping a hat to Parton’s collaboration with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt on “Those Memories of You.” As the side stage opened up to reveal Jennifer Nettles, Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman, Nettles announced that Loretta Lynn was in crowd, holding their own as they delivered “You’re Lookin’ at Country,” the camera panning to show Keith Urban singing along in the crowd. The trio was followed by the super quartet The Highwomen, who owned Tammy Wynette’s “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad,” with Kacey Musgraves jamming along in the audience.
Tucker delivered on “Delta Dawn,” with The Highwomen chiming in with their stellar harmonies before Wilson made a bold statement with “Redneck Woman,” Kelsea Ballerini and Carly Pearce rocking out at their seats all the while. Gayle sounded as good as ever on “Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue” and was followed by Clark, who rocked out to “Better Things to Do” as much as Hillary Scott was in the audience. Evans brought all of the women together for “Born to Fly,” setting the stage for McBride to gracefully enter with “Independence Day” their voices soaring together on the chorus, bringing the set to an inspiring close.
“The whole tone this year is obviously taking a look at women in country music. It’s so nice to just be heartfelt and celebrate women in country music, so I feel that Dolly and Reba and myself, we’ll have our moments of that,” Underwood shared recently with Sounds Like Nashville and other media.
The 2019 CMA Awards are airing live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.