Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Lady Antebellum singer Hillary Scott and Little Big Town singers Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman are the honorees of the 2018 edition of CMT's annual "Artists of the Year" special, which airs Oct. 17 from 8-9:30 p.m. ET/PT. The show will air live in the Eastern and Central time zones. It's the first time since the annual show debuted in 2010 that all of the year's honorees are female, which might have been in response to the criticism that CMT got when all of the 2017 Artists of the Year honorees were male. However, long before the #MeToo movement, CMT made a commitment to uplift and celebrate women in the male-dominated country music industry by launching the Next Women of Country campaign in 2013.
Leslie Fram, CMT Senior Vice President of Music and Talent, commented in a statement about the 2018 Artists of the Year show: “This year, we’re evolving the special to reflect what’s happening right now in culture and in the lives of our fans. 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.”
Although the performer lineup for the 2018 Artists of the Year show has not been officially announced yet, all of the honorees are expected to perform. The show is also known for unique collaborations on stage. Details on tickets and the show's venue have not yet been announced. The 2017 "Artists of the Year" show took place at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
Jason Aldean had been named one of CMT's Artists of the Year every year since 2012, but he didn't make the cut this year. However, Aldean was among the all-male nominees for the 2018 Entertainer of the Year Award at the Country Music Association Awards and Academy of Country Music Awards.
All of the 2018 honorees for CMT's Artists of the Year except for Morris were named Artist of the Year in previous years. Underwood has received the honor the most, having previously been named among the Artists of the Year in 2010, 2012 and 2016. Lambert was honored in 2012 and 2014, and Ballerini in 2016, while Lady Antebellum was named in 2010 and 2011 and Little Big Town in 2015.
Most of this year's honorees took to social media to react to the honors. Ballerini said on Twitter: "Goodness I love you CMT." Morris tweeted, "THANK. YOU. @cmt ! Thank you for narrowing the gap in this industry. Proud to be honored among friends this night!"
Lady Antebellum's Scott tweeted, "This puts a smile on my face like no other! Couldn’t be more excited and proud to see @CMT Artists of the Year with an all-female lineup. Honored to be a part of this amazing night next month. #CMTAOTY."
The Little Big Town singers also expressed their gratitude and excitement about being honored on the show. Fairchild tweeted, "Proud to call all of these girls friends. They inspire me and I’m grateful to @CMT for shining the light on women in country music." Schlapman said on her Twitter and Instagram accounts: "How special it is to be in the company of these amazing women! Thank you @CMT for such an incredible honor."
To celebrate the all-female lineup of honorees, CMT is launching a “Women of Country Music” promotional takeover on Oct. 17 across all CMT platforms, including the CMT television network, CMT Music digital channel and CMT Radio’s syndicated shows “CMT Radio Live” and “CMT After Midnite” to encourage increased airplay of female artists.