Jennifer Nettles 'truly proud' to receive latest honor (Exclusive)

Jennifer Nettles is about to make history as one of the first country artists to ever perform at Lincoln Center.

Her historic performance will take place at Alice Tully Hall during "A Night of Country Under City Lights" on Friday, May 31, during which she'll receive the Lincoln Center Corporate Fund Media and Entertainment Council's prestigious Artist Impact Award for her years of philanthropic work with the Human Rights Campaign and 4-H organization.

The honor follows the release of her impactful single, "I Can Do Hard Things," and its accompanying music video, which spotlights the difficult obstacles that women often have to overcome in order to succeed together.

Ahead of her celebratory night in the Big Apple, the Grammy-winning singer and one-half of Sugarland caught up with AOL's Gibson Johns to share her thoughts on receiving the Artist Impact Award, the importance of giving back and the growing influence of country music into new parts of the country.

Check out our conversation with Jennifer Nettles below:

Congrats on this honor! How does it feel to be honored with the Artist Impact Award for your philanthropic work?

The more life I live, the more enriching my philanthropic work becomes. We all want to leave a legacy of positivity and compassion. We all want to make beautiful change and touch the lives of others. Art is one way to do that. But there are many more. To receive an award based on my work to help others is deeply meaningful to me and is something of which I am truly proud. 

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Jennifer Nettles out and about
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Jennifer Nettles out and about
Musician Jennifer Nettles attends Variety's Power Of Women: New York presented by Lifetime event at Cipriani Midtown on April 5, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 01: Jennifer Nettles attends MCC Theater presents "Miscast 2019" at The Hammerstein Ballroom on April 1, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 29: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) (L-R) Josh Groban, Jennifer Nettles and Sara Bareilles pose backstage at the new musical revival of "Oklahoma!" on Broadway at The Circle in The Square Theatre on March 29, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 29: Singer/actress Jennifer Nettles attends the Build Brunch at Build Studio on March 29, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Jennifer Nettles on Thursday, February 21, 2019 -- (Photo by: Zach Pagano/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: (L-R) Harry Brant, Olivia Palermo and Jennifer Nettles attend the Dennis Basso front row during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Cipriani 42nd Street on February 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Jennifer Nettles visits The Tresemmé Salon during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Spring Studios on February 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for IMG)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 08: Jennifer Nettles attends MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Dolly Parton at Los Angeles Convention Center on February 08, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Jennifer Nettles performs onstage during MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Dolly Parton at Los Angeles Convention Center on February 8, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: (L-R) Jennifer Nettles, Margo Price, and Cam perform onstage during MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Dolly Parton at Los Angeles Convention Center on February 8, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 27: Jennifer Nettles discusses "Sugarland" and "Giving Tuesday" with the Build Series at Build Studio on November 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Singer Jennifer Nettles is seen walking in SoHo on November 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
THE 52ND ANNUAL CMA AWARDS - Country Music superstars Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood return to host "The 52nd Annual CMA Awards," Country Musics Biggest Night, live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, WEDNESDAY, NOV. 14 (8:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. The beloved hosts return for the 11th time. (Image Group LA/ABC via Getty Images) KRISTIAN BUSH, JENNIFER NETTLES
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 14: (FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Singer-songwriter Jennifer Nettles of musical duo Sugarland attends the 52nd annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 14, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 04: Jennifer Nettles attends the Broadway Opening Night of 'American Son' at the Booth Theatre on November 4, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Jennifer Nettles attends 'The Lifespan of a Fact' opening night at Studio 54 on October 18, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images)
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What about the Human Rights Campaign and its work resonates so deeply with you?

We are all born with the right to be respected and protected, not “in spite” of our differences, but, in my opinion, because of our differences. That’s a beautiful part of what makes us human and soulful and even American. The Human Rights Campaign, with its focus on the LGBTQ community, works tirelessly to ensure that protection and respect and dignity are offered and represented within governments and communities all over the world. I want to be a part of that in any way I can. 
 
The response to "I Can Do Hard Things" and its accompanying video has been so wonderful. What have people said to you about its impact on them?

My favorite responses to ICDHT come from those people who have claimed it as their own anthem. Those sweet, brave souls who have shared their own stories of the hard things they are doing each and every day. 

You're also set to become one of the first country artists to perform at Lincoln Center, which is wild. Why do you think they haven’t had more country in the city?

In the past, I believe country music was more popular throughout other parts of the country. For years it was stereotyped, some by its own hand, as rural or southern and even skewed older in its fan base. Today that is not the case. Art and music continue to evolve in ways that our influences become enmeshed and intertwined toward so many diverse inspirations. Today people from all walks of life, all demographics, all over the country, including New York City, have begun discovering, and celebrating the growing diversity in country music. 
 
What about country music allows it to touch so many people on such an emotional level?

Regardless of how it is produced or packaged, country music remains the genre for the story within the song. While there are many songs about young love even in country music, there are just as many songs about deep truths, heartbreak, growing up, loss of innocence, losing friends and loved ones, trials and failures, growing up, having children, you name it. We are all complex hearts with full, complex lives. Our stories don’t begin and end in the club. Country music celebrates all of those stories

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