Additional presenters announced for Wednesday's show include Keith Urban, Elle King, Smokey Robinson and Trisha Yearwood.
By Chris Willman
The coal miner’s daughter will be serenaded by some spiritual daughters and also a son on CMT’s “Artists of the Year” program Wednesday night. The network has announced that the evening’s all-star tribute to Loretta Lynn, who’ll be receiving the Artist of a Lifetime reward, will feature Sheryl Crow, Martina McBride and Dierks Bentley.
In the case of Bentley (who just wrapped up his 2017 tour Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl), this represents a sort of honor of his own: So far, the “It’s Different for Girls” singer is the only male artist announced as singing on the show. The format for “CMT Artists of the Year was changed to celebrate an all-female slate of winners this year, and thus far CMT had only announced women in performance slots as well. Perhaps at the end of it, Bentley will be able to tell us whether it really is different for guys.
The country music-based network also announced additional presenters Tuesday, after previously naming Sissy Spacek as introducing Lynn. New on that lineup are one of the male artists best known for championing women as duet partners and tourmates, Keith Urban, along with Elle King (Bentley’s “Girls” duet partner, who has her own album coming out Friday), soul legend Smokey Robison, Trisha Yearwood, Crow and the male members of Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town, who will presumably be there to help honor the female members of their groups.
Besides Lynn, the artists being honored on the telecast are Carrie Underwood, Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini, Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott and Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman. Among previously announced performances, Morris will be joined by Brandi Carlile for a tribute to Aretha Franklin, Ballerini will team up with Gladys Knight and Scott will go gospel with Kirk Franklin and Tori Kelly.
In scheduling Crow and McBride for the Lynn tribute, CMT picked two performers with a well-established history of celebrating Lynn. Last year, McBride sang “You Ain’t Woman Enough (to Take My Man)” with Lynn at the Ryman for an 85th birthday concert. (Martina also covered the song on her 2005 “Timeless” album.) Crow sang “Coal Miner’s Daughter” with Lynn and Miranda Lambert on a 2010 tribute album, and the trio reprised it live on that year’s CMA Awards.
“CMT Artists of the Year” airs live from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center at 8 p.m. ET and on tape delay at the same hour on the west coast.