The 8th Annual ACM Honors were held on September 9, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee at the Ryman Auditorium, which is often referred to as the “mother church of country music.” The evening was a celebration of special award recipients from the Academy of Country Music, honoring musicians, industry professionals, and artists. Emotions ran high throughout the night, as both presenters and performers recalled memories of the honorees.
Jake Owen hosted the ceremony, and kicked off the night with a performance of Ronnie Milsap’s “Back on My Mind Again.” Milsap was later presented with the Career Achievement Award, and Hunter Hayes performed a medley of Milsap’s hits “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For the World” and “Smoky Mountain Rain” in his honor.
The Special Awards segment of the ceremony was full of memorable performances, including the Oak Ridge Boys, who received a standing ovation for their performance of “Elvira” in honor of veteran booking agent Paul Moore, recipient of the Mae Boren Axton Award.
“How cool is it to see Carrie Underwood singing ‘oom papa oom papa mow mow’??” said Joe Bonsall.
Carrie Underwood was visibly emotional during her acceptance of the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award, thanking her husband and her team for their efforts. Jake Owen quipped afterwards that this was just the beginning of her emotional rollercoaster, referring to her recently announced pregnancy. The video highlights showcased her achievements from the live Sound of Music television production to her recorded music and touring. The Swon Brothers performed a medley of her hits “See You Again” and “Wasted” in her honor.
A dynamic trio of powerhouse vocals, Kelly Clarkson, Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, and Kacey Musgraves, honored Songwriter of the Year Shane McAnally by performing some of his hits that they’ve recorded, including “Tie It Up,” “Downtown,” and “Merry Go Round.”
“These songs are who we are,” said Shane McAnally. He recalled the early days of his career and how he thought that if Kenny Chesney could just hear his songs, he would make it. Sure enough, Chesney ended up hearing and recording “Somewhere With You,” which was McAnally’s first number one hit. Chesney also presented the award to McAnally.
Rascal Flatts was honored with the Jim Reeves Internal Award, recognizing their contributions to the expansion of country music around the world with their recent European tour stops. Tim Tebow was a surprise guest, and presented the award to the trio. Joe Don Rooney took the opportunity for a photo-op, and all four of them “Tebowed” after receiving the award, which may be a first for the historic Ryman stage.
An additional recipient of the Jim Reeves International Award was industry veteran Steve Buchanan, for his contributions to the global exposure of the Grand Ole Opry and Nashville television show. Buchanan mentioned during his acceptance speech that he is currently working a musical production of the iconic television show Hee-Haw with hit songwriters Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark. Nashville stars Sam Palladio (Gunnar) and Clare Bowen (Scarlett) performed to honor both Buchanan and Rascal Flatts.
The star-studded evening also included legendary Brenda Lee, who presented the Pioneer Award to Bob Beckham’s family and Tony Joe White performed “Polk Salad Annie” in his honor.
The Poet’s Award went to Cowboy Jack Clement, Buck Owens, Dean Dillon, and Kris Kristofferson for their iconic songwriting contributions to country music. Performers honoring the recipients included Shawn Camp, Billy Burnette, Dierks Bentley, Dwight Yoakam, Rodney Clawson, Lee Ann Womack, Jack Ingram, and Will Hoge.
Other awards presented included:
- Industry Awards: Venues of the year (Billy Bob’s Texas, Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater, Grand Ole Opry House, Bridgestone Arena), talent buyer of the year (Nicole More), casinos of the year (Mohegan Sun Wolf Den, Mohegan Sun Wolf Arena), and promoter of the year (Brian O’Connell).
- Studio Recording Awards: bass player of the year (Michael Rhodes), guitar player of the year (Rob McNelley), piano/keyboards player of the year (Charlie Judge), steel guitar player of the year (Paul Franklin), audio engineer of the year (Justin Niebank), specialty instrument player of the year (Bryan Sutton), drummer of the year (Shannon Forrest), and producer of the year (Dan Huff).
Kris Kristofferson closed out the evening by summing it up perfectly:
I feel like I’m in church and I can’t thank you enough.