Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban & Little Big Town Celebrated at 10th Annual ACM Honors
Community is the backbone of country music and that was readily apparent Tuesday night (Aug. 30) at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium during the 10th Annual ACM honors, where today’s top country acts celebrated the genre’s legends while honoring their contemporaries. Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, the late Eddie Rabbitt, Tanya Tucker, Jimmy Webb and the Statler Brothers were among those honored. Lady Antebellum hosted the event, which will air on CBS September 9th, marking the first time the event has been televised.
Among the evening’s highlights were the multiple artist collaborations. As first reported on Billboard, Urban joined forces with Little Big Town to perform David Bowie’s “Heroes.” The performance was taped and will air as part of Stand Up to Cancer, which also airs on Sept. 9 right before ACM Honors. Luke Bryan and Cole Swindell delivered an energetic rendition of Rabbitt’s classic hit “I Love a Rainy Night,” with Bryan telling the audience he had performed the song in many bars early during his career. Rabbitt was honored with the ACM Poet’s Award, which was accepted by his daughter Demelza.
During the evening, legendary songwriter Webb was also presented the ACM Poet’s Award. The Band Perry performed Webb’s “MacArthur Park,” and Toby Keith presented the award. Webb used his acceptance speech to sing the praises of Glen Campbell, who recorded many of his best-loved songs, and also urged people to support songwriters and make sure they are fairly compensated.
One of the highlights of the night came when Alicia Keys and Cam gave a riveting performance of Little Big Town’s record-breaking hit “Girl Crush.” “I’ve never wanted to jump up and sing so bad,” Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild exclaimed as the group took the stage following Cam and Keys’ performance to accept the ACM Crystal Milestone Award. They thanked the ACM for the honor and the Nashville community for their support of the song. “We also want to thank our families -- from our mamas and daddies to our husband and wives and our babies. I’m so wrinkled cause my baby has been sitting on my lap all night, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” LBT’s Kimberly Schlapman said of daughter Daisy Pearl.
Chris Young and duo Dan + Shay joined forces to deliver the Statler Brothers iconic hit “Flowers on the Wall.” Before they launched into the song, the 6’4” Young teased Shay Mooney about his height, quipping, “you look bigger on TV.” Mooney shot back that he was really 6’1” but he looked shorter because Young is 7’9.” The threesome did an admirable job on the Statlers classic then presented the ACM Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award to Statlers Don Reid and Jimmy Fortune. Reid joked that, "unlike the others, I look and feel like a pioneer.” Fortune spoke from the heart about how grateful he was for his 21 years performing with the legendary group.
The evening’s final performance featured Toby Keith, Blake Shelton, Bentley and Urban performing a special tribute to Glen Campbell that showcased such classic hits as “Southern Nights,” “Gentle on My Mind,” “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.” In accepting the ACM Career Achievement Award on behalf of her husband, who is battling Alzheimer's, Campbell’s wife of 35 years, Kim, commented that it would mean a lot to Glen that he was being honored the same night as his friend Jimmy Webb.
In addition to all the multi-artist collaborations, there were also noteworthy solo performances. Lambert performed Merle Haggard’s “Misery and Gin” before receiving the ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award. Bentley played “Freedom” with the help of individuals from the ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp before presenting his friend and producer Ross Copperman with the ACM Songwriter of the Year Award. Kelsea Ballerini sang “Don’t It Make my Brown Eyes Blue” before presenting Crystal Gayle with the ACM Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award.
Maren Morris delivered a potent performance of Tucker’s breakthrough hit “Delta Dawn,” and then welcomed Tucker to the stage to accept the ACM Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award. “I never thought of myself as a pioneer so I left my covered wagon at home,” joked Tucker before giving a heartfelt speech, thanking those who had an impact on her career and letting fans know that she was back on the road touring this fall.
Other honorees included Aldean who received the ACM Triple Crown Award and Urban who was given the ACM Mae Boren Axton Award. During the night, the late Jeff Walker was honored with the ACM Jim Reeves International Award with his wife Terri and children Jonathan and Christy accepting. Underwood is on tour and wasn’t present to accept the ACM Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award for her humanitarian work. Her husband, NHL star Mike Fisher, said he was there to “celebrate my wife’s beautiful heart” and introduced a clip of her philanthropic efforts and then another clip of her singing “Temporary Home.”
Also honored during the evening were country music’s top musicians: Michael Rhodes, bass player; Derek Wells, guitar player; Jim “Moose” Brown, piano/keyboards; Shannon Forrest, drummer; Paul Franklin, steel guitar player and Danny Rader, specialty instruments. Justin Niebank was named Audio engineer of the year. Dave Cobb was honored as producer.
Lady A's Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood were engaging hosts. Haywood excitedly told the audience he had gotten Emmylou Harris to autograph his guitar backstage, while Kelley stayed busy bantering with the audience. When they had to repeat their performance of Campbell’s hit “Galveston,” he accused Little Big Town of judging them from the front row.
Frank Liddell served as musical director for the event. Look for the 10th annual ACM Honors on CBS at 9pm EST on Sept. 9