For the first time since 1979, two solo female artists were nominated for CMA Entertainer of the Year this year, with both Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert finding their names on the ballot when the 2020 nominations were announced last week. Speaking to media last week, Reba McEntire, who won EOTY in 1986, shared her thoughts on the nominations, noting that she was "thrilled."
"I’m thrilled with the girls getting back in there," she said, via The Country Daily. "The thing that we have to realize and remember, whether it’s a male or female, the song usually drives the situation — it drives the boat. So when anybody has such a great song that can keep them in front of the public for a while — because there’s so much competition — that’s the thing. And then them coming in with the hard work and the creativity to do different things year after year."
McEntire also praised Underwood, who co-hosted the 2019 CMAs with McEntire and Dolly Parton and visited 60 cities on her Cry Pretty Tour 360 last year. "Carrie has worked her tail off. I’ve watched her. I’ve watched her show," McEntire said. "I’m very impressed with how much work she puts into her production and to her creativity, whether it’s the people who surround her [during] her concerts or her costuming — she puts a lot of thought into it. She sings her butt off, so I’m very, very proud of Carrie coming in and working so hard and representing country music."
Underwood has previously been nominated for the award in 2016 and 2019, where she was favored to win, though the honor ultimately went to Garth Brooks, the results of which led him to remove himself from future nominations in the category. This is Lambert's fourth nomination, as she was previously up for the award in 2010, 2014 and 2015. The last woman to win Entertainer of the Year was Taylor Swift in 2011, and the last time two women were nominated in the same year was 41 years ago, when Crystal Gayle and Barbara Mandrell were both up or the honor. This year's category is rounded out by Eric Church, Luke Combs and Keith Urban.
While Underwood's tour ended in October, Lambert went straight from her Fall 2019 Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour to her Wildcard Tour, which was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Underwood's most recent album was 2018's Cry Pretty, while Lambert, who is now the most-nominated female artist in CMA Awards history, released Wildcard in November. The 2020 CMA Awards will air Wednesday, Nov. 11 on ABC.