The 37-year-old singer from Arlington, Texas, will be the first Black woman to host the awards ceremony.
The door to country music has long been closed to many Black artists, with just a handful of exceptions. Starting in the 1920s, record labels deliberately marketed what was once called “hillbilly music” as the music of the rural White South, historians say.
But the thumbprints of African American culture are stamped on virtually every facet of country music, including its vocal harmonies, instrumentations, and some of its most popular songs. Black artists helped build country music.
The banjo, for example, is a descendant of an instrument that was brought to America by enslaved West Africans. Many of the earliest “hillbilly” songs were adapted from slave spirituals, work songs, and from tunes by Black songwriters. One of Johnny Cash’s mentors was Gus Cannon, a Black blues musician and bandleader who was the son of slaves.
CNN’s John Blake contributed to this report.