The 53rd annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards went a step further with its plans to "celebrate legendary women in country music" by naming Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire as hosts of its Nov. 13 broadcast.
The announcement marks Underwood's 12th year as host, including co-hosting gigs with Brad Paisley from 2008-2017. There shouldn't be a comedy relief drop-off with the absence of Paisley. After all, few entertainers are funnier than McEntire, a co-host from 1992-1994, and 1988 host Parton.
Other women to host the CMA Awards since Bobbie Gentry co-hosted the inaugural event in 1967 include Dale Evans (1968), Barbara Mandrell (1980-1982) and Anne Murray (1983, 1985, 1989).
The all-woman team of hosts and the overall theme of this year's CMA Awards broadcast continue a positive sign of change within the industry. Earlier this summer, the Country Radio Seminar announced Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris as speakers for its Feb. 2020 event. Two examples hardly represent wholesale improvements needed to combat country music's widespread and complex gender representation problem, but small victories on such large stages further a necessary conversation.
With Underwood, CMA retains a host willing to speak up against country radio's unfair practices.
"Even when I was growing up I wished there was more women on the radio. And I had a lot more than there are today," Underwood told Elaina Smith, host of the Nash Country Daily podcast, Women Want to Hear Women. "Think about all of the little girls that are sitting at home saying, 'I want to be a country music singer.' What do you tell them? What do you do? How do you look at them and say, 'Well, just work hard, sweetie, and you can do it.' When that's... not the case right now. 'Cause I see so many girls out there bustin' their rear ends and so many guys out there that it's some new guy out there has a Number One, and I'm like, 'Good for you, that's great, but who are you?'"