CMT is turning the status quo on its head, shifting focus to women — and only women — for this year's CMT Artists of the Year event.

The 2018 special will honor Carrie UnderwoodMiranda LambertKelsea BalleriniMaren MorrisLittle Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman, and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott as Artists of the Year.

“This year, we’re evolving the special to reflect what’s happening right now in culture and in the lives of our fans,” says Leslie Fram, Senior Vice President of Music & Talent, CMT,. “In this monumental year for women, dedicating one of the biggest nights in the genre to applaud female country artists not only solidifies our commitment, but we hope will spark a much-needed change in the industry."

The show airs Oct. 17 at 8PM ET on CMT.

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Feedback about the all-female lineup has been positive, especially from artists who are vocal about necessary change in the genre. "Thank you for narrowing the gap in this industry," Morris writes on Twitter:

 

In the past, megastars Underwood and Lambert have both shown support for other women — each artist has headlined an all-female tour lineup. That's true for Underwood next year, too. She has announced that her 2019 Cry Pretty Tour will include openers Maddie & Tae and Runaway June.

As Underwood explains during an interview with the Women Want to Hear Women podcast, "I’m not throwing anybody a bone by taking them out on tour with me. They deserve to be there and they’re gonna put on a great show, and I’m already proud of all that they’ve done."

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