Photo credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images
For the second year in a row, CMT gathered today to celebrate the rising female artists in country music at Nashville’s recently-opened City Winery. Co-hosted by CMT’s SVP of Music Strategy Leslie Fram and country music powerhouse Lee Ann Womack, the event brought together artists and industry dignitaries to pay homage to the new generation of signed and unsigned female artists making an impact on country music.
CMT announced it will continue to expand its NEXT WOMEN OF COUNTRY franchise, adding four new females to the list: Kelsea Ballerini, Mickey Guyton, Maddie & Tae and RaeLynn. In a newly-announced role as mentor, singer/songwriter Jewel took the stage and pledged her support in a heartfelt speech, imploring female artists to take chances and feel as important as their male counterparts.
“Our mission remains as critical as ever now in our second year of NEXT WOMEN,” said Leslie Fram, SVP of Music Strategy, CMT. “As champions of music, we have to ensure these incredible female voices are heard. It’s time for a change in the male-dominated format, and CMT is proud to celebrate and empower the female voices that are making an indelible mark in country music.”
Singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw surprised the crowd by introducing co-hosts Fram and Womack. Guests of the event were treated to acoustic performances by nine of CMT’s NEXT WOMEN, including: Ballerini, Kelleigh Bannen, Lindsay Ell, Guyton, Jana Kramer, Maddie & Tae, Angaleena Presley, RaeLynn and Natalie Stovall. Among the industry guests in attendance were: George Briner, SVP of promotion for The Valory Music Co.; Mike Dungan, chairman & CEO of Universal Music Nashville; John Esposito, president & CEO of Warner Music Nashville; Gordon S. Kerr, CEO of Black River Entertainment; Chris Loss, VP of promotion for Stoney Creek Records; Shane McAnally, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter; Chris Stacey, general manager of Dot Records; and Brian Thomas, corporate program director at Cumulus and program director of NASH FM/New York.
CMT’s NEXT WOMEN OF COUNTRY franchise showcases signed and unsigned female artists across CMT platforms and at NextWomen.CMT.com. Since its launch in January 2013, several alumnae — Brandy Clark, Ashley Monroe, Kacey Musgraves and Cassadee Pope — found success ranging from commercial to critical acclaim. With the newest additions, the network has named 25 major label, indie label and unsigned female artists to its NEXT WOMEN list.
For more on the latest rising female stars in country music, visit NextWomen.CMT.com. Here, fans can find exclusive content from the NEXT WOMEN artists, including video premieres, exclusive performances and more. Join the conversation using #NextWomen on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Photo: Front (L-R): Jana Kramer, Kelsea Ballerini, Rachel Farley, Mickey Guyton, RaeLynn, Angaleena Presley, Maddie Marlow (Maddie & Tae), Tae Dye (Maddie & Tae), Lindsay Ell, Kelleigh Bannen, Natalie Stovall; Back (L-R): Rose Falcon, Cassadee Pope, Lee Ann Womack, Leslie Fram, CMT SVP of Music Strategy, Kristen Kelly, Sarah Darling, Lauren Alaina, Danielle Bradbery;