During the 2023 CMT Music Awards, Megan Thee Stallion presented country music icon Shania Twain with the Equal Play Award.
As Twain hugged the presenter, her hat fell off, but she quickly and gracefully regained her composure. She joked, “You’re so tall I lost my hat!”
The CMT Equal Play Award is given to an “advocate for elevating diverse and underrepresented voices in country music.” Previous recipients have included inaugural winner Jennifer Nettles in 2020 and Black country pioneer Linda Martell in 2021.
In her acceptance speech, Twain acknowledged the power of her anthemic song, “Man I Feel Like a Woman,” and how it has impacted a variety of people across decades.
She also reflected on her career since winning her first award 30 years ago, the current state of the music industry, and the progress that still needs to be made.
“Let me start by saying ‘Let’s go girls.’ When I wrote the phrase, ‘Man I feel like a woman,’ I honestly had no idea at the time that it would become an undercurrent of a decades-long career. It’s amazing how just one statement can empower so many. And ‘Man I feel like a woman’ has been adopted by an array of fantastic communities all around the world and become a genuine path of power and progress for women too. I mean, women in country music. Right? Which brings me so much joy. Thank you to CMT for pushing the equal play agenda, and thank you for always supporting me.”
She went on to explain that her first-ever award win was a CMT Music Award.
“In fact, you know what? You may not know this, but a CMT Rising Star Award was my very first award ever, 30 years ago,” Twain continued. “That was in 1993. So CMT holds a very special place in my heart, and I promise I will continue to champion the many outstanding country artists who are not currently played. They’re not streamed or signed or awarded at the level they deserve.”
“So I believe in an all-inclusive country music or family. This is a genre of music with a rich history that raised and nurtured my own songwriting and performance and recording career from childhood,” Twain added. “Currently, the industry standard does a real disservice to this. Now let us, the country music industry, do our part to close the gap and provide an equal workspace for all talent. This year I’m taking many amazing artists on my Queen of Me tour, Lily [Rose], Tenille [Townes], Lindsay, Hailey, Breland, Robyn, Priscilla, Mickey, and so many more. And my hope is that this opportunity and spotlight impresses you much and lifts up the careers of these very talented people on their journey. I will continue to do my best as a trailblazer, and together let’s ensure that all our fellow artists get equal play regardless of gender, age, or race. Thank you again.”
2023 CMT Music Awards
Co-hosted by Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini, the 2023 CMT Music Awards featured performances from Blake Shelton, Carly Pearce, Carrie Underwood, Cody Johnson, Jelly Roll, Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini, Lainey Wilson, and Tyler Hubbard.
Additionally, the show included one-of-a-kind collaborations, including a 10th anniversary of CMT Next Women of Country celebration featuring Alanis Morissette with Lainey Wilson, Ingrid Andress, Madeline Edwards, and Morgan Wade. Gwen Stefani and Carly Pearce joined forces for a special collaboration, while Kane Brown and Katelyn Brown teamed up for the television premiere of their chart-topping duet, “Thank God.”
The Black Crowes and Darius Rucker delivered a first-time collaboration of “She Talks To Angels,” and Wynonna Judd and Ashley McBryde will also take the stage together.
The show also included a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan from Gary Clark, Jr. and a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute from Billy Gibbons, Chuck Leavell, Cody Johnson, Paul Rodgers, Slash & Warren Haynes and LeAnn Rimes & Wynonna Judd as honorary “Honkettes.”
Rising stars Avery Anna, Chapel Hart, Jackson Dean, Lily Rose, Nate Smith, and Megan Moroney made their CMT Music Awards performance debut on the Ram Trucks Side Stage.
Carly Pearce, Carrie Underwood, Charles Esten, Dixie D’Amelio, Dustin Lynch, HARDY, Ian Bohen + Jen Landon (Yellowstone), Jon Pardi, LeAnn Rimes, Madison Bailey (Outer Banks), Max Thieriot (Fire Country), Megan Thee Stallion, Noah Schnapp (Stranger Things), Parker McCollum, Peter Frampton, Shania Twain, Steve Howey (True Lies) and Travis Kelce appeared as presenters.
The coveted awards show aired live from the Moody Center in Austin, Texas on Sunday, April 2 at 8/7c on CBS. It was also available to stream live and on-demand via Paramount+.