The Academy of Country Music held a special celebration in Nashville last night (August 25), presenting the 14th Annual ACM Honors at the historic Ryman Auditorium.
The night of music and trophies was meant to salute all those award winners who did not make the television broadcast of the 55th and 56th Academy of Country Music Awards, and was full of all-star performances. Hosted by Carly Pearce, the event put a spotlight on artists, executives and events making a uniquely positive impact on country music, as well as the talented musicians who keep cranking out hits on Music Row.
Music exec Joe Galante and Rascal Flatts were given the ACM Cliffie Stone Icon Award (for growing country’s popularity). Lady A and Ross Copperman took home the ACM Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award (for their acts of charitable service). Luke Combs and Michael Strickland got the ACM Gene Weed Milestone Award (for outstanding achievements, with Combs breaking chart records and Strickland advocating for federal relief money in 2020). Dan + Shay got the ACM Jim Reeves International Award (for growing country’s profile overseas). RAC Clark earned the ACM Mae Boren Axton Service Award (for his longtime work producing the ACM Awards), and Toby Keith was handed the ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award (for his long history of marching to his own beat). Loretta Lynn, Gretchen Peters and Curly Putman won the ACM Poet’s Award (for their songwriting legacy). And finally, Ken Burns’ epic Country Music documentary won the ACM Tex Ritter Film Award.
Meanwhile, tunesmith Hillary Lindsey was recognized as the back-to-back winner of ACM Songwriter of the Year award, and each honoree was toasted in song by some of Nashville’s biggest names.
Performers included Trace Adkins, who honored his buddy Keith with “Love Me If You Can.” HARDY, Lauren Alaina and Devin Dawson highlighted Lindsey’s incredible success with her co-written “One Beer.” Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack teamed up for “Murder On Music Row” in honor of RAC Clark. Keith Urban played “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16″ in a nod to Copperman, while Lady A offered a tribute to themselves, singing “What a Song Can Do.”
Other powerful moments included the ACM Honors debut of Sam Williams, who performed his grandfather, Hank Sr.‘s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” while his father, Hank Williams Jr., watched from the side of the stage. And along with many more musical highlights, Ashley McBryde closed the night out, performing Combs’ “She Got the Best of Me.”
Fans packed the Ryman to see the star-studded special, and the show also streamed on CircleAllAccess livestream channels, but those who missed it will have extra chances. The 14th annual ACM Honors will re-air on Circle TV on November 23 at 8pm ET, with an encore on November 24 at 12am ET.
Here’s a rundown of the additional honorees:
56TH ACM AWARDS (2020 STUDIO RECORDING AWARD WINNERS):
BASS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tony Lucido
DRUMMER OF THE YEAR: Aaron Sterling
GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR: J.T. Corenflos (Awarded Posthumously)
PIANO/KEYBOARDS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Dave Cohen
SPECIALTY INSTRUMENT(S) PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ilya Toshinskiy
STEEL GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR TIE IN CATEGORY: Dan Dugmore & Mike Johnson
AUDIO ENGINEER OF THE YEAR: F. Reid Shippen
PRODUCER OF THE YEAR: Jay Joyce
*INDUSTRY AWARDS NOT GIVEN IN 2020 DUE TO PANDEMIC
PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED WINNERS:
55TH ACM AWARDS (2019 INDUSTRY AWARD WINNERS):
CASINO OF THE YEAR – THEATER: The Joint: Tulsa – Tulsa, OK
CASINO OF THE YEAR – ARENA: MGM Grand Garden Arena – Las Vegas, NV
FAIR/RODEO OF THE YEAR: Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo – Houston, TX
FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR: Tortuga Music Festival – Fort Lauderdale, FL
CLUB OF THE YEAR: Joe’s Live – Rosemont, IL
THEATER OF THE YEAR: The Beacon Theatre – New York, NY
OUTDOOR VENUE OF THE YEAR: Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO
ARENA OF THE YEAR: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
DON ROMEO TALENT BUYER OF THE YEAR: Gil Cunningham – Neste Live!
PROMOTER OF THE YEAR: Brian O’Connell – Live Nation
55TH ACM AWARDS (2019 STUDIO RECORDING AWARD WINNERS):
BASS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jimmie Lee Sloas
DRUMMER OF THE YEAR: Miles McPherson
GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Rob McNelley
PIANO/KEYBOARDS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Gordon Mote
SPECIALTY INSTRUMENT(S) PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jenee Fleenor
STEEL GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Paul Franklin
AUDIO ENGINEER OF THE YEAR: Justin Niebank
PRODUCER OF THE YEAR: busbee (Awarded Posthumously)