Jennifer Nettles to Receive First-Ever 'CMT Equal Play Award' for Women's Advocacy

Jennifer Nettles will be honored for her work in supporting and advocating for female artists in country music with the first-ever "CMT Equal Play Award," which will be given to Nettles during the 2020 CMT Music Awards on Wednesday.

"As a proud part of the beautiful legacy of women in country music, I am honored to be the first recipient of the 'CMT Equal Play Award,'" Nettles said in a statement. "I look forward to celebrating the contributions of women, and all marginalized communities, within the country music format, and I am motivated in encouraging the non-artists, executives and investors in the industry, to do the same. There is much work still to be done."

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Nettles first gained prominence as a member of the country duo Sugarland before embarking on a solo career. She will be recognized on Wednesday for her ongoing advocacy for women and diverse voices in the music industry as she continues to work towards gender parity in country music and beyond. Last year, Nettles attended the CMA Awards wearing a Christian Siriano pantsuit and cape with graffiti reading "Play our f*@#in records," "Please and thank you" and "Equal play."

"I am honored to get to be here at the @cma celebrating other women in country music," the singer wrote on Instagram at the time. "We need the celebration and support of women to move into country radio and country play listing. We want our songs to be played and our stories to be heard. The more our songs are played, the more women get to hear their own stories, challenges and triumphs reflected."

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The presentation of Nettles' award during the CMT Music Awards will be preceded by a three-minute tribute video featuring testimonials from Sheryl Crow, Tanya Tucker, Maren Morris, Cam, Kelsea Ballerini, Ashley McBryde, Mickey Guyton and Gabby Barrett.

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"Jennifer Nettles is that rare artist who speaks her truth, calling out injustice wherever she sees it," said Leslie Fram, Senior Vice President, Music Strategy, CMT. "Her commitment to equal female representation across the board in the music industry embodies the spirit of our equal play initiative and makes her the perfect recipient of the inaugural ‘CMT Equal Play Award.'"

CMT began its equal play initiative in 2019 as a response to the lack of female representation in country music, specifically radio and streaming services. As part of the initiative, CMT has instituted 50/50 play for female artists across CMT and CMT Music channels, CMT Radio Live has pledged equal play and CMT After MidNite debuted "CMT Next Women of Country: Artist of the Month." CMT is also continuing its Next Women of Country series, which began in 2013.