Jennifer Nettles Says 'We Have More to Do' as She Accepts First-Ever CMT Equal Play Award

"I look forward to celebrating the contributions of women and all marginalized communities within the country music format," the country star said in a statement

Jennifer nettles
Jennifer Nettles. Photo: CMT Awards/ Youtube

Jennifer Nettles received a tremendous honor at this year's CMT Music Awards.

The country singer and actress, 46, was given the first-ever CMT Equal Play award on Wednesday night in recognition of the work she's put forth in the fight for parity. She was applauded for her ongoing advocacy to get women and diverse artists heard on country music radio stations just as much as their male counterparts.

While accepting the honor, Nettles said, "Thank you so much!"

"I have been so excited about this — I put on eyeshadow, okay, and it has been a while," she continued. "Thank you so much for this honor CMT, thank you to CMT Equal Play, Leslie Fram, everyone on the Equal Play team who has been so supportive from the beginning. Thank you to all the fans, and especially my artists, my sisters out there who continue to burn the holy fire."

"I am so proud to be a part of this legacy of women in country music with you, and I am so proud of the stories that we tell," she concluded. "We have more to do as soon as we can, and I can't wait to do it alongside you, holding your hands. Thank you so very much."

Ahead of the big night, Nettles expressed her gratitude for the award.

"As a proud part of the beautiful legacy of women in country music, I am honored to be the first recipient of the CMT Equal Play award," she said in a statement. "I look forward to celebrating the contributions of women and all marginalized communities within the country music format and I am motivated in encouraging the non-artists, executives and investors in the industry to do the same. There is much work still to be done."

"Jennifer Nettles is that rare artist who speaks her truth, calling out injustice wherever she sees it," CMT's senior vice president of music strategy Leslie Fram said in a statement.

Check out PEOPLE's full CMT Awards coverage to get the latest news on one of country music's biggest nights.

“Her commitment to equal female representation across the board in the music industry embodies the spirit of our equal play initiative and makes her the perfect recipient of the inaugural CMT Equal Play award," she continued.

Jennifer Nettles attends the 53rd annual CMA Awards at the Music City Center on Novem
Jennifer Nettles. John Shearer/WireImage

Since appearing at the 2019 CMA Awards in a cape printed with a drawing of a woman's face affixed with the female gender symbol, and the words "equal play" and "Play our f*@#!g records please & thank you," there have been steps forward for women in country, including the 50/50 CMT Equal Play music channel on PlutoTV that CMT created.

"We'd also like to thank our partners at Pluto TV who launched a pop-up channel today called CMT Equal Play in support of the awards that will offer country music videos 24/7, with an equal male and female playlist, allowing us to further our commitment to equal play," Fram said.

The 2020 CMT Music Awards aired live from Nashville on Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. EST on CMT, MTV, MTV2, Logo, Paramount Network, Pop and TV Land.

Updated by
Brianne Tracy
Brianne Tracy

Brianne Tracy is a staff writer on the PEOPLE music team. She has been with the brand since starting as an intern nearly six years ago, covering all things entertainment across print and digital platforms. She earned her Bachelors in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Southern California and has been seen on Good Morning America.

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