The biggest night in country music returned to its longtime home at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday.
While last year’s CMA Awards were held sans audience at nearby Music City Center due to COVID-19, this year, the 55th annual awards show was packed with fans and star-studded performances ― notably from Black women.
Mickey Guyton was joined by Brittney Spencer and Madeline Edwards to perform her single “Love My Hair” from her debut album, “Remember Her Name.” The song, a ballad honoring the beauty of Black hair, was inspired by 14-year-old Faith FennidyAfter being informed that her braids were in violation of the school dress code, a 2018 student was expelled from school.
Fennidy attended the 2021 CMA Awards red carpet as a guest of Guyton’s and introduced the three singers onstage.
“I am proud to say that I inspired the song that you are about to hear by an artist I love,” the teen said. “This next artist created this song to make sure girls like me feel seen and loved. That’s how you turn something very painful into something positive.”
Spencer, Edwards, and Guyton wore white Yumi Katsura gowns. They were accompanied by beautiful black curls. Edwards had voluminous locks that were reminiscent Disco Queen Donna Summer. Spencer, however, chose to go larger-than life. 4C frosAccentuated with gold charms and braids
Guyton stated that every element of Guyton’s performance was based on authenticity and intentionality.
“We have a Black creative director, Jemel [McWilliams], that’s helping with this, along with Black hairstylists,” Guyton told HuffPost. “The stage is going to be our hair. This is crucial in a country environment. That, to me, is how we’re staying true.”
In addition to that amazing performance, Jennifer Hudson was joined by Chris Stapleton (multi-CMA Award Winner) who took viewers to church to pay tribute to Aretha. Hudson was tapped by Franklin to assume the lead role in her biopic “Respect,” and belted out “Night Life” and “You Are My Sunshine” in her CMA Awards debut.
As expected, J.Hud’s voice left the audience speechless. Following the powerful performances of all four women, praise rang out across social media.
One user on Twitter wrote, “I don’t know who needs to hear it but Jennifer Hudson just put on the best vocal performance in CMA Awards history.”
HuffPost will host a Twitter Spaces chat on Nov. 16, at 1 PM Eastern, with country artists to discuss how the industry works as Black women and the future for country music. Sign up to be notified when the Spaces begins here