Linda Martell, A Rediscovered Country Legend, To Receive CMT’s 2021 Equal Play Award

The groundbreaking African-American female country vocalist finally gets "sent her flowers" after a bittersweetly important career

So often, country music is a story defined by three chords and the truth. However, for 86-year old Linda Martell, it was as a veteran vocalist in her mid-30s releasing three pop-country singles at the turn of the 1970s that changed the arc of country music history forever. The career of the artist to be honored with CMT’s 2021 Equal Play Award at the 2021 CMT Music Awards provides an eternally compelling case for why the music industry must always support marginalized artists.

A chance encounter as a veteran, local R & B artist singing country music at an Air Force Base began her on a bittersweet journey into the genre. Her success was defined by her natural ability to blend soul chops with traditional country yodels and other vocal effects. Those talents led to the South Carolina native being signed by music manager William “Duke” Rayner. Soon thereafter, in 1969, music producer Shelby Singleton signed her to his Nashville-based Plantation Records label.

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