CMT to honor Black country music pioneer Linda Martell

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This image from video released by CMT shows country singer Linda Martell during an interview in 2005. Martell, the first Black woman to perform solo at the Grand Ole Opry, will be honored at the 2021 CMT Music Awards on Wednesday. (CMT via AP)

NEW YORK — Linda Martell, one of the pioneers for Black acts 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 legend will receive the CMT Equal Play Award at Wednesday night’s show.

Martell released the album “Color Me Country” in 1970. The title track became her biggest hit-to-date on the Billboard country music charts, reaching No. 22.  

But Martell had her hardships. She experienced racism while performing onstage and was shunned by the music industry as a mainstream country performer.

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