CMT’s ‘Smashing Glass’ Honors Tanya Tucker, Patti LaBelle, and More Groundbreaking Women In Music

Two influential artists who broke barriers for women in music took the spotlight for a star-studded television special. Smashing Glass: A Celebration of the Groundbreaking Women of Music, which premiered tonight (November 15) on CMT, honored the lives and careers of Tanya Tucker and Patti LaBelle.

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The hour-and-a-half-long special was filmed in Nashville just days after Tucker’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In an interview from the red carpet, the country star admitted to American Songwriter that the reality of her whirlwind week hadn’t yet hit her.

“I think it’s going to take a while,” she explained. “I think I’m going to go to Mexico, I’m going to lay out there and think, ‘Oh my god?! What just happened to me?’ It’s wonderful.”

Tucker’s place in the Country Music Hall of Fame and as a Smashing Glass honoree are both well-earned. Since she broke onto the scene at just 13 years old with her debut record Delta Dawn, the Texas native has released 26 studio albums, including this year’s Sweet Western Sound. Still, Tucker has difficulty contemplating her impact on generations of listeners and artists alike.

“I’m honored to think they that I was an influencer,” Tucker added. “I think about the ones that influenced me: Loretta Lynn, Connie Smith, Elvis…I can’t believe that I’d be an inspiration to someone. If I am, then that makes it all worth it. But I want my fans to know that none of this would be possible without them. None of it.”

[RELATED: Tanya Tucker and Little Big Town Perform “Delta Dawn” at the 2023 CMA Awards]

Tucker’s longtime friend and fellow country hitmaker Clint Black took the stage to perform a rendition of “Texas (When I Die).” The anthemic tune, originally released by Ed Bruce, became a trademark cut from Tucker’s rock-infused 1978 album TNT

Chris Janson also offered a lively tribute to Tucker, covering her infectious 1993 single “It’s a Little Too Late.” His take on the track, which included a fiery harmonica solo, and Black’s performance earned approval from Tucker, who danced and sang along from her box seat.

Tanya Tucker seen in the audience during CMT Smashing Glass: A Celebration of the Groundbreaking Women of Music at The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on October 26, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMT)

Although every performer of the night gave their all, The War & Treaty made it look easy with their goosebump-raising rendition of “On My Own.” The passionate duet, which Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald took to No. 1 in 1986, felt as modern as ever in the hands of Michael and Tanya Trotter. Genre-spanning musician and creative multi-talent Ledisi brought the crowd to their feet again with her lively version of LaBelle’s “New Attitude.”

Both honorees also took the stage, treating fans to individual performances that had the crowd on their feet. Tucker brought many in the room to tears with “Bring My Flowers Now,” the powerful Grammy Award-winning song from her 2019 comeback record While I’m Livin’. LaBelle showed her mind-boggling vocal range with “2 Steps Away,” a timely cut from her 2004 record Timeless Journey. After reaffirming her title as the “Godmother of Soul,” she soaked in a lengthy standing ovation.

Patti LaBelle performs onstage for CMT Smashing Glass: A Celebration of the Groundbreaking Women of Music at The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on October 26, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMT)

Although Tucker and LaBelle were the spotlighted honorees of the evening, Smashing Glass also paid respects to artists who have passed on, including two groundbreaking women who died earlier this year.

Mickey Guyton gave an electrifying, high-energy rendition of “The Best” in tribute to rock and roll record-breaker Tina TurnerLucie Silvas’ stunning vocal performance channeled the raw emotion that Sinead O’Connor weaved into her trademark song “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Award-winning actor and singer Amber Riley ignited the stage with her take on Aretha Franklin’s declarative classic “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.”

The emotional and inspiring evening of music offers a reminder of the work still needed to break barriers for women across genres, including country music. Even with the progress left to be made, Smashing Glass provided a much-deserved celebration of the artists who helped pave a new path.

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMT

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