Country music fans, superstar Music City talent and industry elite turned out in force tonight for the Academy of Country Music’s 7th Annual ACM Honors, an evening dedicated to recognizing the special honorees and off-camera category winners from the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. The sold-out event, hosted by Dierks Bentley for the second time, was held in Nashville at the historic Ryman Auditorium. The evening was sponsored in part by American Airlines, City National Bank and Spot Shot.
The night included a mix of live music, historical video retrospectives and current video tributes and interviews with industry veterans honoring Special Awards recipients Jason Aldean, Guy Clark, Blake Shelton, Keith Whitley (posthumously), Tommy Wiggins, Hank Williams (posthumously), Lady Antebellum and The Judds and winners of the MBI (Musician, Bandleader, Instrumentalist) categories Chuck Ainlay, Matt Chamberlain, J.T. Corenflos, Aubrey Haynie, Mike Johnson, Jay Joyce, Michael Rojas, Jimmie Lee Sloas and Ilya Toshinsky and winners of the Industry Awards categories, Jerry Hufford (Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace), Ed Warm (Joe’s Bar), Joe’s Bar (Chicago, IL), Red Rock Casino & Resort (Las Vegas, NV) and Ryman Auditorium (Nashville, TN) and Songwriter of the Year recipient Dallas Davidson.
Artists who performed in tribute to honorees included:
- Dierks Bentley performing “I’m Over You” and “Don’t Cheat in our Hometown” with special guest Ricky Skaggs, in tribute to Keith Whitley
- Rodney Crowell & Emmylou Harris, performing “She Ain’t Goin Nowhere” in tribute to Guy Clark
- Vince Gill & Paul Franklin, performing “Together Again” in tribute to Tommy Wiggins
- Kree Harrison, performing “Love is Alive” in tribute to The Judds
- Dave Haywood & Charles Kelley, performing “We Owned the Night,” “I Don’t Want This Night to End,” and “The One That Got Away” in a medley tribute to Dallas Davidson
- Jamey Johnson with special guest, Holly Williams, performing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and “I Saw The Light” in tribute to Hank Williams
- Robert Earl Keen, performing “Let Him Roll” in a medley tribute to Guy Clark
- The Mavericks, performing “Your Cheatin’ Heart” in tribute to Hank Williams
- Lorrie Morgan & Jesse Keith Whitley, performing “’Til A Tear Becomes A Rose” in tribute to Keith Whitley
- Thompson Square, performing “Why Not Me,” “Grandpa” and “Love Can Build a Bridge” in a medley tribute to The Judds, with ACM Lifting Lives Series participants as the special guest choir
- Chris Young, performing “Window Up Above,” “The Race Is On” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today” in a special medley tribute to George Jones
Presenters included Joe Galante to Lorrie Morgan, Jesse Keith Whitley and Morgan Whitley, who accepted on behalf of Keith Whitley and to Wynonna Judd, who accepted on behalf of The Judds, Vince Gill to Guy Clark, Darius Rucker to Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley who accepted on behalf of Lady Antebellum, Randy Owen to Jason Aldean, Bob Romeo to Tommy Wiggins, Don Schlitz to Dallas Davidson, Steve Wariner to Blake Shelton, Big & Rich to Jett Williams and Holly Williams, who accepted on behalf of Hank Williams, David Nail presented the Industry awards, Deana Carter presented the MBI awards.
The house band for the evening, lead by musical director Frank Liddell, included Wyatt Beard (background vocals), Glen Duncan (fiddle/utility), Paul Franklin (steel guitar), Jedd Hughes (guitar/utility), John Jarvis (piano), Liana Manis (background vocals), Brent Mason (electric guitar), Jerry Roe (drums) and Glenn Worf (bass/bandleader).
SPECIAL AWARDS OF THE EVENING
The Academy of Country Music Special Awards are voted on by the ACM Board of Directors and are awarded during years where the Board of Directors feels there are clear and deserving candidates. The evening’s honorees included:
Cliffie Stone Pioneer Awards – Keith Whitley and The Judds received the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award, honoring individuals who are pioneers in the country music genre.
Crystal Milestone Award – Jason Aldean received the Crystal Milestone Award, which is given to an artist or industry leader to commemorate a specific, remarkable achievement.
Gene Weed Special Achievement Award – Blake Shelton received the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award, which acknowledges unprecedented, unique and outstanding individual achievement in country music.
Jim Reeves International Award – Lady Antebellum received the Jim Reeves International Award, which is presented to an artist for outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country music throughout the world.
Poet’s Award – Guy Clark and Hank Williams received the Poet’s Award, which honors songwriters for outstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their careers in the field of country music.
You can see the rest of our photos from the evening on our Flickr page. Click HERE.