Carrie Underwood Reveals It Was Her Idea for CMA Awards to Focus on Female Artists

This year's CMA Awards are focusing on female artists from the past and present, as well as the rising women in country music. Carrie Underwood, who is hosting the show for the 12th year, this time with help from Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire, now admits the idea was largely hers.

"When we started talking about the CMAs this year, thinking about what theme we might have ... I definitely was kind of pushing for a tribute to females in country music," Underwood told ABC.

As the bro-country movement dominated the airwaves, female artists were pushed more and more to the side, which artists like Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris and others decided was no longer acceptable.

"I feel like right now, this year in country music, a lot of us have decided to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak," Underwood noted. "I feel like we've been talking about needing more of a presence of women in country music."

"I'm not the only female headlining tour with all-female acts," she added. "I feel like we all decided, 'Well, we['re] just gonna have to do it ourselves!"

Underwood will host the CMA Awards for the first time without Brad Paisley by her side, although she admits she is in good company standing next to Parton and McEntire.

"It's all about just lifting each other up, supporting each other with Dolly and Reba," said Underwood. "I feel like we all get to be ourselves. We're all adding our own lines to the script, and wanting to be ourselves, but also just wanting to lift each other up, support each other."

The female-focused awards show is earning praise from plenty of artists, including Keith Urban, even though he acknowledges it is unfortunate that it had to come to this for them to receive recognition.

"I think it's sad that we have to do something to make this intentional recalibrating of what should have been balanced all along," Urban told ABC Radio. "But I'm glad it's happening."

Parton and McEntire will join Underwood in kicking off the 2019 CMA Awards with a medley of hits performed by some of the most recognizable female artists over the last few decades, including Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Gretchen Wilson, Crystal Gayle and more.


The 2019 CMA Awards will air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Photo Credit: Getty / Rick Diamond