CMT’s Next Women of Country franchise, now in its 11th year, has added 14 new artists to its ranks, revealing the 2024 class in the program’s ongoing aim at promoting female country artists — and fighting systemic gender disparity within the country music industry — as part of CMT’s overarching CMT Equal Play initiative.
The CMT Next Women of Country: Class of 2024 includes Anne Wilson, Denitia, Ella Langley, Emily Ann Roberts, HunterGirl, Karley Scott Collins, Kylie Frey, Lauren Watkins, Madeline Merlo, Mae Estes, Tanner Adell, The Castellows, Tigirlily Gold and Twinnie.
The franchise’s new class was revealed and celebrated on Tuesday (Jan. 23) before a Nashville gathering of music industry and media members at City Winery Nashville. CMT’s Leslie Fram was joined by co-hosts Kimberly Perry and Colbie Caillat, each of whom will serve as mentors to the 2024 CMT Next Women of Country class.
“As someone that grew up watching CMT every morning, to now be highlighted with this wonderful class of artists is inspiring. CMT’s continued support of my career has been amazing, first through Equal Access, and now as a Next Woman of Country,” NWOC Class of 2024 member Denitia told Billboard in a statement. “My focus is to make music that connects with people and I’m really grateful for this opportunity to have even more of a platform to do that. I want to continue to be inspired by the past traditions of country music while moving forward into an exciting future. What an honor to be included in what’s next!”
The singer-songwriter released the 2022 album Highways, featuring the song “I Want to Live,” and followed in 2023 with a cover of Garth Brooks’ “What She’s Doin’ Now.”
With its 2024 class, the franchise has welcomed 125 women into its ranks over the past decade, creating a community and network of supporters, champions and collaborators, including Mickey Guyton, Kelsea Ballerini, Brittney Spencer, Lainey Wilson, Megan Moroney and more.
For 2024, the Next Women of Country will team up with the female singer-songwriter collective, Song Suffragettes, for a year-long partnership, which was announced onstage by Fram and Song Suffragettes leader Todd Cassetty. Since 2014, Song Suffragettes has held weekly songwriter showcases in Nashville, with dozens of the women featured going on to secure publishing and record deals.
This joint effort, in conjunction with organizations Change the Conversation and The Change Agent·cy, aims to pursue industry education opportunities together to continue advancing and supporting women country music artists. In celebration of the collaboration, NWOC will host a showcase with Song Suffragettes at City Winery on Feb. 27, with performer lineup and ticketing details to come.
Additionally, CMT’s series CMT Hot 20 Countdown, hosted by Carissa Culiner and Rissi Palmer, will again this year offer a three-hour special episode, honoring the NWOC 2024 class; the episode will air Feb. 10.
NWOC Class of 2024 member Anne Wilson, whose album My Jesus was a sonic slab of CCM-country sounds, is experiencing a crossover surge, having previously earned two No. 1 Billboard Christian Airplay hits with “My Jesus” and “I Still Believe in Christmas.” She recently released the country radio-focused track “Rain in the Rearview,” while her single “Strong” is in the top 20 on the Christian Airplay chart.
“I’m overwhelmed with gratitude to be a part of this year’s Next Women of Country,” Wilson told Billboard via a statement. “It’s truly an honor that I don’t take lightly. My love for country music and the beautiful community of artists in it is immense. It’s a dream to be walking alongside these incredible female artists with the support of an organization I’ve loved since ever since I can remember.”
NWOC Class of 2024 member Adell, who released the critically acclaimed album Buckle Bunny last year, told Billboard via a statement, “Being a part of CMT’s Next Women of Country is an honor in so many ways. As a little girl I watched CMT and admired all the strong women I saw. I’m blessed with a story that wasn’t always easy to live, but I can’t wait to heal and inspire other women with my journey and wear the Next Women of Country badge with honor.”
CMT’s Next Women of Country franchise launched in 2013, highlighting female country performers on all CMT screens, including CMT and CMT Music, as well as digital series; the NWOC franchise expanded to include seven tours spearheaded by artists including Jennifer Nettles, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Tanya Tucker and Maddie & Tae.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to welcome this latest group of artists to CMT’s Next Women of Country,” said Leslie Fram, SVP, Music & Talent, CMT, via a statement. “For the past 10 years, this franchise has represented the best and brightest new talent in all of country music and this year is no exception. From the UK and Canada to California and the deep South, these women all have their own unique stories to tell, and we can’t wait to introduce them to CMT audiences in creative and meaningful ways.
“And in the spirit of providing greater opportunities and visibility for female voices in our format, we’re thrilled to join hands and partner with our friends at notable singer-songwriter collective, Song Suffragettes, to work together towards our collective goal: greater parity for underrepresented female voices in our format. We look forward to collaborating with Todd Cassetty and his team to ensure that more talented women like these are given the opportunities they deserve to be seen and heard worldwide by our industry and fans.”
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