The Academy of Country Music has revealed the winners of this year’s special awards and much more, including the details of the upcoming 14th annual ACM Honors ceremony.
In addition, the ACM also announced the 2021 and 2020 studio recording honorees, making up for lost time since last year’s awards were put on hold due to COVID-19.
First up, Luke Combs, Lady A, Dan + Shay and more have been revealed as the special awards recipients for the for the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards, which took place in Nashville on April 18. Many awards are not included in the television broadcast, including these behind-the-scenes industry commendations.
Rascal Flatts and executive Joe Galante receive the ACM Cliffie Stone Icon Award, which is give for advancing the popularity of country music through multiple avenues, like songwriting, recording, touring and even literary works. In Flatts’ case, the award comes after the superstar trio retired form a 20-year career in 2020.
Likewise, Lady A and songwriter Ross Copperman get the ACM Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award, given for improving lives through the power of music. Lady A has “consistently participated in ACM Lifting Lives events and fundraisers,” and made a special impact at the ACM Lifting Lives Camp in 2019.
Luke Combs wins this year’s ACM Gene Weed Milestone Award for “unprecedented or outstanding achievement,” acknowledging his double-Platinum album, What You See Is What You Get, and a still-going streak of Number Ones on the Billboard Country Airplay chart.
Dan + Shay get the ACM Jim Reeves International Award for helping spread country’s reach around the world, owing to a big global streaming presence and a sold-out tour of the UK in 2019, as well as their Australian “take over” with pop star Shawn Mendes.
Meanwhile, longtime executive producer of ACM Awards, RAC Clark, wins the ACM Mae Boren Axton Service Award for his years of dedication. And Toby Keith receives the ACM Merle Haggard Sprit Award, for contiuning Haggard’s spirit of authenticity and character.
Loretta Lynn, Gretchen Peters and Curly Putman (posthumously) get the ACM Poet’s Award for their lyrical contributions, and Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary earns the Tex Ritter Film Award. And finally, Hillary Lindsey wins the coveted ACM Songwriter of the Year Award for the second straight year, owing to her 27 Number Ones and a third Grammy win in 2020, for co-writing “I’ll Never Love Again” from A Star Is Born.
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
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)
Looking ahead, they’ll all be celebrated at the upcoming 14th annual ACM Honors, an evening dedicated to recognizing the special honorees and off-camera category winners from the 55th and 56th Academy of Country Music Awards. That event will return to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on August 25, with general public tickets on sale beginning Friday (June 18) at 10 a.m. CST. Prices range from $85- $142.
Meanwhile, ACM Party for a Cause® Benefitting ACM Lifting Lives®, will return in August, with more details to follow in the coming weeks. It will be the first time ACM Party for a Cause will be held in Nashville.