The 9th Annual ACM Honors was an intimate evening at the Ryman Auditorium to recognize special honorees and off-camera category winners from the 50th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards.
My favorite beach boy, Jake Owen, cleaned up pretty nicely to host the event for a second time. Performers included Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen, Jason Aldean, Roy Clark, Josh Turner, Randy Houser, Kacey Musgraves and Restless Heart. Presenters included Kelsea Ballerini and The Swon Brothers.
Randy Houser performed “Roller Coaster” in tribute to Luke Bryan receiving the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award. But SURPRISE, Luke Bryan was actually in the audience and took the stage after Randy’s performance. No pressure!
The Career Achievement Award went to Alabama. Jason Aldean sang a medley of “Tennessee River” and “Love in the First Degree” and “The Closer You Get.” Meanwhile, Aldean’s wife Brittany sat up front and center singing along from the audience 10 rows in front of me.
“Just wait ’til you see what we’re gonna do the next 30 years,” Alabama said, as the group accepted its award.
The ACM Jim Reeves International Award went to Eric Church.
“I learned that you don’t have to speak English to speak music fluently,” Eric Church said. “It’ll never be a politician that saves the world. It’ll be an artist.”
Josh Turner shook the auditorium with his deep voice as he sang “Good Ole Boys Like Me” in tribute to Bob McDill winning the Poet’s Award.
The night concluded with a performance by Miranda Lambert singing “Rated X” in tribute to Loretta Lynn receiving the Crystal Milestone Award.
“She sang songs that were not necessarily appropriate to sing at times, like this for me,” Miranda Lambert said before presenting Loretta Lynn with her award.
Loretta Lynn was the belle of the ball in a Cinderella-blue ball gown that dazzled from top to bottom. She held her award for about 10 seconds before shoving it back toward Miranda.
“This thing weighs 50 pounds,” Loretta Lynn said. “I want to thank you for the award, and I’ll be back next year for another one.”
Below is the full list of 9th Annual ACM honors and honorees:
Gene Weed Special Achievement Award: Luke Bryan
Mae Boren Axton Awards: Tim DuBois, Barry Adelman
Songwriter of the Year: Luke Laird
Career Achievement: Alabama
Jim Reeves International Award: Eric Church
Poet’s Awards: Felice & Boudleaux Bryant (posthumous), Bob McDill
Crystal Milestone Award: Loretta Lynn
Studio Recording Awards
Drums: Greg Morrow
Guitar: Tom Bukovac
Piano/Keyboards: Michael Rojas
Steel Guitar: Dan Dugmore
Specialty Instruments: Ilya Toshinsky
Bass: Glenn Worf
Audio engineer: Chuck Ainlay
Producer: Jay Joyce
Casino of the Year
Small Capacity: Hard Rock Live (Biloxi, Mississippi)
Medium Capacity: MGM Grand Casino (Las Vegas)
Festival of the Year
Country Thunder USA: East (Twin Lakes, Wisconsin)
Nightclub of the Year
Joe’s Bar (Chicago)
Venue of the Year
Small Capacity: Ryman Auditorium (Nashville)
Medium Capacity: Red Rocks Amphitheatre (Morrison, Colorado)
Large Capacity: Hollywood Bowl (Hollywood, California)
Don Romeo Talent Buyer of Year: Sally Williams (Ryman Auditorium)
Promoter of the Year: Ed Warm (Joe’s Live)