Written by: Dakota Croog
A night of live musical tributes rang through the halls of the Ryman Auditorium for the 10th Annual ACM Honors yesterday evening, the first time in the ceremony’s history to be pre-televised.
Lady Antebellum hosted the event and made way for several introductions to country star artists receiving awards and putting on performances.
The inaugural presentation of the Spirit of Merle Haggard Award became emotional for recipient Miranda Lambert following the rendition of “Misery and Gin.” Lambert highlighted ‘the Hag’s’ career in country music after the much publicized story of singer/songwriter Sturgill Simpson criticizing the Academy of Country Music making an award in his memory; stating it was an excuse to use his name. Lambert didn’t address Simpson directly but said, “Merle was one of my heroes,” she continued “He’s the reason I write songs, he changed my life so much.”
Presenter Emmylou Harris pointed out that Haggard also won 20 ACM Awards and was the organization’s first Entertainer of the Year winner.
David Bowie’s legend lived on through the musical talents of Little Big Town, Dierks Bentley, and Keith Urban, all whom sang “Hero” for the Stand Up to Cancer movement.
Most notably, television star and musical artist Tanya Tucker received the ACM Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award after Maren Morris performed a stunning live rendition of Tucker’s top hit “Delta Dawn”.
“I never considered myself a pioneer, so I left my wagon at home,” Tucker said at the beginning of her speech.
After her performance, Morris was presented with a platinum award for her debut single “My Church”.
Chris Young, Dan+Shay performed together for “Flowers On The Wall” by The Statler Brothers who also won the ACM Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award, prior to also having the award go to Crystal Gayle.
The second half of the show featured ACM Songwriter of the Year being awarded to famous songwriter Ross Copperman. Dierks Bentley took the stage not long before four members of ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp joined him to sing “Freedom”, which received a standing ovation from the audience.
Alicia Keys and Cam performed a duet of “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town, which left the audience in surprise and awe towards the conclusion of the show.
Little Big Town tweeted “Hearing @aliciakeys and @camcountry bring the house down on our song was pure heaven!! #girlcrush #acmhonors”
The night came to an end with a powerful performance led by Blake Shelton in honoring Glen Campbell, who received the ACM Career Achievement Award. Shelton was followed on-stage by vocalists Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban and Toby Keith that sang alongside Campbell’s son and daughter, Shannon and Ashley Campbell.
The 10th Annual ACM Honors will be aired on Friday, Sept. 9 ET/PT on CBS.
See the full list of Honorees/Special Awards down below:
ACM Lifting Lives Gary Haber Award – Carrie Underwood has been chosen to receive the ACM Lifting Lives Gary Haber Award. This new award, named in honor of late ACM Lifting Lives Chairman Gary Haber, was created by the ACM Lifting Lives Board of Directors to recognize a country music artist or industry professional who is committed to serving others, has a generosity of spirit and shows a dedication to helping those in need.
Career Achievement Award – Glen Campbell has been chosen to receive the Career Achievement Award, which honors artists who have advanced the popularity and acceptance of country music through their endeavors in the entertainment industry in multiple areas during the preceding calendar year.
Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award – Crystal Gayle, Tanya Tucker and The Statler Brothers have been chosen to receive the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award honoring individuals who are pioneers in the country music genre.
Crystal Milestone Award – Little Big Town has been chosen to receive the Crystal Milestone Award, which is given to an artist or industry leader to commemorate a specific, remarkable achievement.
Jim Reeves International Award – Jeff Walker (awarded posthumously) has been chosen to receive the Jim Reeves International Award, which is presented to an artist or industry leader for outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country music throughout the world.
Mae Boren Axton Award – Keith Urban has been chosen as the recipient of the Mae Boren Axton Award, which is given to an outstanding individual recognizing years of dedication and service to the Academy of Country Music.
Poet’s Award – Eddie Rabbitt (awarded posthumously) and Jimmy Webb have been chosen to receive the Poet’s Award, which honors songwriters for outstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their careers in the field of country music.
Tex Ritter Award – As previously announced, Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors has been chosen as the recipient of the Tex Ritter Award, which is given to recognize a movie released receiving significant exposure that featured or utilized country music, during the preceding calendar year. This award was presented to Dolly Parton during the live 51st Academy of Country Music Awards telecast on April 3rd.
Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors aired on NBC in 2015, inspiring millions of viewers with its story of faith and family. Set in 1955 in the Great Smoky Mountains, the film showcases a poignant time in Parton’s childhood, as her family struggles with loss, grapples with religion, and ultimately triumphs with the healing power of love. Alyvia Alyn Lind stars as the nine-year-old singer who was given a patchwork coat made by her mother, played by Jennifer Nettles. Ricky Schroder portrays Parton’s father, along with Gerald McRaney as her grandfather. The movie was watched by more than 16 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched TV movies of all time.
CASINO OF THE YEAR – SMALL CAPACITY: Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun – Uncasville, CT
CASINO OF THE YEAR – MEDIUM CAPACITY: Mohegan Sun Arena – Uncasville, CT
FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR: Stagecoach – Indio, CA
NIGHTCLUB OF THE YEAR: Boondocks – Springfield, IL
VENUE OF THE YEAR – SMALL CAPACITY: The Rave/Eagles Ballroom – Milwaukee, WI
VENUE OF THE YEAR – MEDIUM CAPACITY: Ascend Amphitheatre – Nashville, TN
VENUE OF THE YEAR – LARGE CAPACITY: Gorge Amphitheatre – Quincy, WA
DON ROMEO TALENT BUYER OF THE YEAR: Gil Cunningham – Neste Event Marketing
PROMOTER OF THE YEAR: Brian O’Connell – Live Nation
STUDIO RECORDING AWARDS
BASS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Michael Rhodes
DRUMMER OF THE YEAR: Shannon Forrest
GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Derek Wells
PIANO/KEYBOARDS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jim ‘Moose’ Brown
SPECIALTY INSTRUMENT(S) PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Danny Rader
STEEL GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Paul Franklin
AUDIO ENGINEER OF THE YEAR: Justin Niebank
PRODUCER OF THE YEAR: Dave Cobb
SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR
SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR: Ross Copperman