CMT honors black country music pioneer Linda Martell

NEW YORK – Linda Martell, one of the black artist pioneers in country music and the first black woman to perform solo at the Grand Ole Opry, will be honored at the 2021 CMT Music Awards.

The 86-year-old will receive the CMT Equal Play Award on Wednesday night’s show. Mickey guyton, who this year became the first black female solo nominated for a country Grammy Award, will honor Martell, while black artists including Darius Rucker, Rissi Palmer and Rhiannon Giddens will congratulate the legend in a video package highlighting his career.

Country singer Linda Martell in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1969.Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Nettles, recipient of last year’s CMT Equal Play Award, will also honor Martell.

Martell released the album “Color the country for me” in 1970. The title song – a country cover of the Winstons’ R&B hit – became her biggest hit to date on the Billboard country music charts, reaching No.22. She has also had success with singles. “Before the next tear drops” and “Bad case of the blues”.

But Martell faced major difficulties. She suffered racism while performing on stage and was rejected by the music industry as a traditional country performer. His record company put his album in the closet and he was forbidden to find a new contract.

“No matter how good your performance was, no matter how good your record was, the color of your skin kept you from working in a lot of great places,” Martell said in the 2005 documentary “Waiting in the”. Wings “.

“A lot of the shows I have done have been very painful. They liked to use the N word (and say), “Go back to where you belong. You don’t need to sing our kind of music. You try to entertain and be insulted very, very loudly in a club or arena and try to get through the song without crying. You wonder how anyone can really be so cruel, ”she continued. “A woman of color, if you get into country music – if the record stations don’t listen to you, you’re not going anywhere.” Prepare yourselves. But don’t give up.

Martell eventually left country music, though his name – and legacy – was revealed recently. Palmer, who enjoyed some success on the country charts with his 2007 debut, titled his Apple Music podcast “Color the country for me” after Martell’s album, and Guyton says his recent success couldn’t have happened if Martell hadn’t opened the doors to black women in country music.

Martell’s granddaughter, Marquia Thompson, who is a filmmaker, recently launched a fundraiser for a documentary on the singer’s life and career.

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