Blake Shelton on Fiddle Player Jenee Fleenor’s CMA Musician of the Year Win: ‘She’s a Superstar’
When Blake Shelton learned that Jenee Fleenor, the fiddle player in his band, was nominated for Musician of the Year at the 2019 CMA Awards, he knew she would walk away the victor.
Shelton's belief was confirmed when Fleenor was bestowed with the honor prior to the 2019 CMA telecast, making history as the first woman to ever, in the CMA Awards' 52-year history, be nominated for and win the category. Sitting down with the Nashville media the following day for a panel surrounding The Voice, Shelton said he is "hands down" more excited about Fleenor's win than his own for CMA Single of the Year for "God's Country."
"I'm so happy to be the one that broke the glass ceiling, and now there is an awareness about that, but I just saw something and went for it," Fleenor remarked backstage in the press room of the awards show, reflecting on her win and that fiddler players Wanda Vick and Mark O'Connor were her heroes growing up. "There's so many amazing women musicians out here, so there should be many more in the session world, for sure."
Prior to joining Shelton's band, Fleenor played in road bands for Martina McBride, Terri Clark and, most recently, Steven Tyler. She's also lent her talent to several albums, including those by Jon Pardi, Rascal Flatts and Ashley Monroe, playing the fiddle intro to the title track of Pardi's new album, Heartache Medication. But her pen is as sharp as her bow, and she's worked as a songwriter who's scored cuts with Shelton's "Just Gettin' Started" and his holiday duet with Reba McEntire, "Oklahoma Christmas, along with Montgomery Gentry's "Drink Along Song" and more.
But what Shelton admires most about his bandmate is their shared connection to classic country music. The two bonded over Fleenor's admiration for musicians like Vick, as well as American Music Shop, a theater-style show that aired on TNN in the 1990s and showcased country artists.
"That's the thing about Jenee that I love about her the most, I think, is because she and I grew up really nerdly into country music," Shelton says. "So having her in my band, that's always been the topics of our conversations over the last few years."
Fleenor's star power is only expected to continue growing, especially with Shelton allowing her to take the spotlight with a fiddle solo during his performance of "God's Country" at the 2019 CMAs.
"The second she got nominated, I knew she was going to win that thing because everybody that meets her loves her. But beyond that, she is so talented," he raves. "She's a superstar."
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