Maren Morris Shines a Light on Country’s Black Females at CMA Awards

Morris used her big moment to highlight others, not herself.

Written by Chris Parton
Maren Morris Shines a Light on Country’s Black Females at CMA Awards
Maren Morris accepts award for Female Vocalist of the Year at “The 54th Annual CMA Awards,” on Wednesday, November 11, 2020; live on ABC from Music City Center in Downtown Nashville; Photo courtesy of CMA

Maren Morris celebrated a monumental night of wins at the 54th Annual CMA Awards, taking home more trophies than any other artist. But she used her biggest moment to lift up others.

Rather than bask in her own spotlight after winning Female Vocalist of the Year, the hit making star decided to shine it on fellow artists who are often left in the shadows — the country genre’s black females. Those artists are few and far between in the mainstream right now, but Morris and many others see no good reason for that to be the case. The names she chose to highlight represent a wide variety of styles and eras in country music, and with tears in her eyes, the singer-songwriter asked fans to bring them into the light.

“There are some names in my mind that I want to give recognition to because I’m just a fan of their music, and they are country as it gets and I just want them all to know how much we love them back,” Morris said, just after thanking the other women in her category. “Just check out their music after this. It’s Linda Martell, Yola, Mickey Guyton, Rissi Palmer, Brittney Spencer, Rhiannon Giddens.

“There are so many amazing Black women that pioneered and continue to pioneer this genre, and I know they’re going to come after me — they’ve come before me — but you’ve made this genre so, so beautiful,” Morris went on. “I hope you know that we see you. Thank you for making me so inspired as a singer in this genre.”

The message of inclusion was found elsewhere on the CMA Awards as well, as country pioneer Charley Pride was honored with the 2020 Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award for his trailblazing career as a black country artist.

Maren Morris was one of the night’s biggest winners, taking home three trophies overall. On top of being named the Female Vocalist of the Year, she also took home honors for Single of the Year and Song of the Year — both for “The Bones.” The new mom and certified country superstar also performed a stunning live rendition of “The Bones” during the show.