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CMT Music Awards to honor Linda Martell, first Black woman to perform solo at Grand Ole Opry

The CMT Music Awards is set to honor Linda Martell, the first Black woman to perform solo at the Grand Ole Opry, on Wednesday.

Martell, whose most successful album, “Color Me Country,” was released in 1970, will be given the CMT Equal Play Award, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Martell has been outspoken about the racism she has faced in the industry, including in a 2005 documentary called “Waiting in the Wings.”

“No matter how good your performance was, no matter how well your record was doing, the color of the skin stopped you from working in a lot of great places,” she said in the documentary.

“A lot of the shows that I did was through a lot of pain. They loved to use the N-word [and say], ‘Go back where you belong. You don’t need to sing our kind of music.’ You’re trying to entertain and be called a name very, very loudly in a club or in an arena and try to get through the song without crying. You wonder how anybody can really be that cruel,” she said. “A woman of color, if you go into country music — if the record stations don’t play you, you’re not going anywhere. Brace yourself. But don’t give up.”

Martell will receive a video package from other Black country music artists, including Darius Rucker, Rissi Palmer and Rhiannon Giddens, congratulating her on the accomplishment, according to the AP.

She will receive the award from Mickey Guyton, who was the first solo Black woman to be nominated for a Grammy in the country category.

Guyton reportedly said that she would not be where she was today as a Black woman country singer without the work of Martell.

Martell’s successful singles include “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” and “Bad Case of the Blues.”

Tags Country music linda martell

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