Maren Morris Celebrates Black Female Artists in CMA Acceptance Speech: 'I Hope You Know We See You'
"There are so many amazing Black women that pioneered and continue to pioneer this genre," the singer said after winning female vocalist of the year
Maren Morris is using her voice to recognize Black women in country.
While accepting the award for female vocalist of the year at the 2020 CMA Awards on Wednesday — her third win of the night — the country star, 30, highlighted some of her favorite artists, both old and new, who have broken boundaries in the predominately white, male genre.
"I love you so much, all the women in this category," Morris began her speech. "Oh my God, I'm really going to try not to curse. Sorry if I do. I'm really not going to. Thank you so much to my team. I have a lot of people to thank, and they're the typical ones that lift me up and make this dream come true with me."
Morris then used her speech to shine a light on Black female artists emerging in Nashville.
"But there are some [people] in my mind that I want to give recognition to because I'm just a fan of their music, and they're as country as it gets," she continued. "I just want them all to know how much we love them back. Check out their music after this. It's Linda Martell, Yola, Mickey Guyton, Rissi Palmer, Brittney Spencer, Rhiannon Giddens ... there are so many amazing Black women that pioneered and continue to pioneer this genre, and I know they're going to come after me, and they've come before me, but you make this genre so, so beautiful. I hope you know that we see you. Thank you for making me so inspired as a singer in this genre."
Morris ended her speech adding that she gets to see her 8-month-old son Hayes (whom she shares with husband Ryan Hurd, her date for the evening) after the show.
"This has just been the most magical night," she said. "Thank you, country music, this means the world. Thank you."
Check out PEOPLE's full CMA Awards coverage to get the latest news on country music's biggest night.
Earlier during the show, Morris took home the single of the year and song of the year titles for her smash hit "The Bones," off her second major-label album GIRL. She also performed the song live during the show.
This year, the CMA Awards honored Charley Pride — country music's first Black star — with the lifetime achievement award. Pride's music has hit No. 1 nearly 30 times and more than 50 of his songs have been in the top 10. Some of his classics include "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone," "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" and "All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)."
Before accepting his award, Pride, 86, hit the stage to perform "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" and was joined by Jimmie Allen for a touching duet.
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"Well, you might not believe but I'm nervous as can be," he said as he accepted the award. "All the people have been influenced by my life, what my life has been influenced by, I got to say something about some of them."
"This man I've always been awed by, and I still am," he said of the late Jack Clement. "My wife Roseanne and I would go and visit him. In fact, last time we visited before he passed away. He always said, 'Roseanne, you're so pretty.' I never have forgotten that."
He also thanked Jerry Bradley and John Daines, who was his road manager for 37 years.
"All my fans, I want to say thank you," he said. "Well, I'm through talking. I just want to thank everybody again. Like I said, I'm nervous."
The 54th Annual CMA Awards aired live from Nashville on Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.