AceShowbiz - Black country music pioneer Linda Martell is set to be recognised with the Equal Play Award at the 2021 CMT Music Awards.
Singer Mickey Guyton will present the accolade, created in 2019 to recognise and combat a lack of diversity in country music, to the 86 year old, while Darius Rucker, Carrie Underwood, Rissi Palmer, Rhiannon Giddens, and 2020 honouree Jennifer Nettles will help to celebrate Martell's legacy with a performance at Wednesday's (09Jun21) prizegiving.
In a statement announcing the news, Leslie Fram, Senior Vice President of Music & Talent at CMT, said, "Linda Martell is a living legend who has influenced so many artists of color, giving them the courage and hope to pursue their dreams and a future reality of Equal Play in country music."
"Linda embodies the spirit of our 'Equal Play' initiative and we are proud to honor her with this prestigious award."
Martell rose to fame in the 1970s with songs like "Color Me Country", a cover of The Winstons' R&B hit, "Before the Next Teardrop Falls", and "Bad Case of the Blues".
She became the first black woman to perform solo at Nashville, Tennessee's storied Grand Ole Opry, but faced a racial backlash in the music industry and eventually turned her back on country.
Applauding Martell's honour, Palmer took to Instagram and wrote, "When I first heard this was happening, I cried. This was a long time coming... Linda Martell is the very definition of what the @cmt Equal Play initiative is all about."
"I'm grateful to be a part of honoring one of my heroes... Tune into to the @cmt Awards on Wednesday night to see @mickeyguyton present Linda with her award and @dariusrucker, me, and more give Linda her flowers...#colormecountry #lindamartell."
Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris lead all nominees heading into the 2021 CMT Music Awards with four apiece while Guyton, Little Big Town, and show co-hosts Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini have each picked up three nods.