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Underwood wins at CMT Awards; Gladys Knight, H.E.R. perform

NEW YORK (AP) — Carrie Underwood has another reason to rejoice — she extended her record as the most decorated artist in the history of the CMT Music Awards, thanks to her song “Hallelujah.”

The music video for the singer’s hit, a collaboration with John Legend, was named video of the year at Wednesday’s show, which aired from Nashville, Tennessee.

Underwood, who now has 23 CMT Awards, thanked her die-hard fans while accepting the honor: “You’re the reason we’re all here doing what we do, doing what we love (and) making music videos.”

She also shouted-out Legend, particularly for sending her the song, which appeared on her first holiday album “My Gift.”

“Congratulations on what I think is your first CMT Award. Whoa!” she exclaimed.

Though Underwood owned part of the night — she also performed with rock band NEEDTOBREATHE — other female stars, some outside of country music, took over the awards show honoring the year’s best country music videos.

Grammy-winning R&B star H.E.R. and fellow guitar slayer Chris Stapleton had the night’s best performance. They joined forces for a smoky, thrilling performance of “Hold On,” coming off like a veteran duo.

The legendary Gladys Knight won over audience members during a performance of “Friendship Train” with Mickey Guyton. Part of the show felt dedicated to Black female voices thanks to the top notch performances by Knight, H.E.R. and Guyton, who was nominated for two awards and presented the CMT Equal Play Award to Linda Martell, one of the pioneering Black acts in country music and the first Black woman to perform solo at the Grand Ole Opry.

Martell had a country hit with the song “Color Me Country” 50 years ago, and she had other songs reach the charts, but she dealt with major hardships. She experienced racism while performing onstage and was shunned by the music industry as a mainstream country performer. Her record label shelved her album and she was prohibited from finding a new deal.

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