Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Reba McEntire Kick Off 2022 CMAs with Loretta Lynn Tribute

The 2022 CMAs began with a heartfelt tribute to one of their own.

Country music’s biggest night opened its annual awards ceremony Wednesday night in Nashville with a medley commemorating country music legend Loretta Lynn, who died Oct. 4 at the age of 90.

Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood joined forces for a star-studded performance that recognized Lynn’s groundbreaking contributions to women in country music.

The tribute began with a few throwback clips of Lynn at past CMA Awards before the night’s openers toasted the legend with a poignant four-song performance.

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Underwood began with her taking center stage as she played through the opening lines of the 1966 classic “You Ain’t Woman Enough (to Take My Man)” before Lambert performed some of Lynn’s hit “Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin.” sang ‘ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind).”

McEntire then sang a touching version of the 1971 hit “You’re Lookin’ at Country” before all three women joined forces for an ensemble performance of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” to conclude the tribute.

The cast also opted for copious amounts of fringe and nodded to some of Lynn’s different eras with a series of photographs behind them.

Following Lynn’s death last month, all of the women who graced the Bridgestone Arena stage for the tribute took to social media to share their memories of the star.

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McEntire, a longtime friend of Lynn who credits the star with inspiring her own career, shared a statement comparing Lynn to her mother Jacqueline, who passed away in March 2020.

Check out PEOPLE’s full CMA coverage for the latest news on country music’s biggest night

“Mom and Loretta were four years apart, Mom was the eldest. They always reminded me a lot of each other. Strong women who loved their children and were fiercely loyal,” the star wrote. “Now they are both in heaven to visit us and talk about how they grew up, how different country music is now than when they were young. I sure feel good that Mom came first so she could welcome Loretta in Heaven’s Screams.”

She continued, “I always have and I will always love Loretta. She was always so nice to me.

Underwood, meanwhile, shared a humorous anecdote about the time she and Lynn first met at the Grand Ole Opry — and Lynn “slapped my butt!”

“This is one of my favorite stories,” Underwood wrote. “I think it pretty much sums up her personality. She was a cantankerous little gun…friendly and sweet…never afraid to be herself and speak her mind.”

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Carly Pearce, who released the song “Dear Miss Loretta” on her album 29called Lynn “one of the greatest there’s ever going to be,” while Lambert said, “she blazed so many trails for all of us girls in country music.”

The 2022 CMAs will be streamed live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Wednesday night.

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