Country music fans, superstar Music City talent and industry elite turned out in force last night for the Academy of Country Music’s 6th Annual ACM Honors, an evening dedicated to recognizing the special honorees and off-camera category winners from the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. The sold-out event, hosted by Dierks Bentley for the first time, was held in Nashville at the historic Ryman Auditorium. The evening was presented by City National Bank.
The night included a mix of live music, historical video retrospectives and current video tributes and interviews with industry veterans honoring Special Awards recipients Bobby Braddock, Kenny Chesney, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Gayle Holcomb, Alan Jackson, Roger Miller (posthumously), Billy Sherrill, Ricky Skaggs and Dwight Yoakam, winners of the MBI (Musician, Bandleader, Instrumentalist) categories Stuart Duncan, Shannon Forrest, Paul Franklin, Kenny Greenberg, Aubrey Haynie, John Hobbs, Frank Liddell, Justin Niebank and Michael Rhodes and winners of the Industry Awards categories, Jimmy Jay (Jayson Promotions, Inc.), Brian O’Connell (Live Nation), Billy Bob’s Texas (Ft. Worth, TX), Bridgestone Arena (Nashville, TN) and Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino (Las Vegas, NV) and Songwriter of the Year recipient Dallas Davidson.
Artists who performed in tribute to honorees included:
- Dierks Bentley, performing “I Don’t Care” in tribute to Ricky Skaggs
- Clint Black, performing “King Of The Road,” “Dang Me” and “Husbands and Wives” in a medley tribute to Roger Miller
- Luke Bryan, performing “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” and “I Don’t Want This Night To End” in a medley tribute to Dallas Davidson
- T Bone Burnett and Buddy Miller, performing “Boulder to Birmingham” in tribute to Emmylou Harris with special guests The Secret Sisters
- Rodney Crowell, performing “Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight” in tribute to Emmylou Harris
- Hunter Hayes, performing “Fast As You” in tribute to Dwight Yoakam
- Will Hoge, performing “Time Marches On” in tribute to Bobby Braddock
- Randy Houser, performing “He Stopped Lovin’ Her Today” in tribute to Bobby Braddock and Billy Sherrill
- Ashley Monroe, performing “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere” in tribute to Dwight Yoakam
- Kellie Pickler, performing “Stand By Your Man” in tribute to Billy Sherrill
- Dailey & Vincent, performing “Highway 40 Blues,” “Wouldn’t Change You If I Could,” and “Honey” in a medley tribute to Ricky Skaggs
Presenters included Dierks Bentley to Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs and Dwight Yoakam, Big Kenny to Gayle Holcomb, Randy Houser to Dallas Davidson, Louie Messina to Kenny Chesney, Stan Moress to Mary Miller, wife of the late Roger Miller and Dean Miller, Roger Miller’s son, who accepted on his behalf, Kellie Pickler to Frank Liddell, Troy Tomlinson to Bobby Braddock, Norro Wilson to Billy Sherrill, Jana Kramer presented the Industry awards, Love and Theft presented the MBI awards.
The house band for the evening, led by musical director Buddy Cannon, included Wyatt Beard (background vocals), Eddie Bayers (drums), Jon E. Conley (guitar), Mike Johnson (steel guitar), Liana Manis (background vocals), Larry Paxton (bandleader/bass), Gary Prim (piano), and Bobby Terry (guitar).
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 Award: Emmylou Harris, Billy Sherrill, Ricky Skaggs and Dwight Yoakam received the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award honoring individuals who are pioneers in the country music genre.
Crystal Milestone Award: Kenny Chesney, four-time ACM Entertainer of the Year, has sold more than 10,500,000 tickets on his 11 national tours, selling out stadiums across the country. His successful shows have promoted the entire genre to delighted fans while helping other country acts and cross-over artists gain exposure nationwide. The Academy honored Kenny for this remarkable achievement.
Career Achievement Award: Vince Gill received the Career Achievement Award, which is presented to an individual artist, duo, group or multiple artist collaboration who have advanced the popularity and acceptance of country music through their endeavors in the entertainment industry in multiple areas during the preceding calendar year. Gill returned to the country scene in 2011 with an appealing new album, Guitar Slinger, and the enthusiastic response proved that he had been missed. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean proclaimed an official Vince Gill Week in conjunction with the album’s release. Gill also served as Grand Marshal of Nashville’s Christmas parade. In addition, Gill and wife Amy Grant graced the cover of Good Housekeeping. A Country Music Hall of Fame member, he earned a Grammy nod for “Threaten Me With Heaven.”
Jim Reeves International Award: Alan Jackson received the Jim Reeves International Award, which is presented to an individual for outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country music throughout the world.
Alan Jackson’s down-home music and laidback personality has translated well internationally. He played for eager audiences in Sweden and Norway in August 2011, brought back by popular demand following his 2009 shows. Jackson’s album, Good Time, has also earned platinum sales in Norway. Jackson also toured Australia for the first time in March 2011. He’ll play four arena shows in Canada in April 2012, as well as a summer concert at the Craven Country Jamboree in Saskatchewan. Jackson won his first ACM Award as 1990’s Top New Male Vocalist, an honor that coincided with career-building tour dates in the UK and Germany.
Mae Boren Axton Award: Gayle Holcomb received the Mae Boren Axton Award, which is given in recognition of years of dedication and service by an outstanding individual to the Academy of Country Music. Holcomb, a country music industry leader at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, has served as an Academy of Country Music board member for 17 years and five years as ACM chairman. During her tenure as chair, Holcomb was a driving force for the organization’s rapid change and growth, including moving the Awards show from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in 2003. Holcomb helped launch ACM Lifting Lives in 2005, guiding the vision for the charity as it got underway initially, and continuing her support of the organization by becoming chairman. She made the initial endowment to form the ACM Lifting Lives’ Diane Holcomb Emergency Relief Fund, in honor of her mother, to enable the Fund to respond quickly to unforeseen, immediate financial needs of ACM members, staff and members of the country music community.
Poet’s Award: Bobby Braddock and Roger Miller have been selected to receive the Poet’s Award, which honors songwriters for outstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their careers in the field of country music.
Bobby Braddock is a master storyteller with more than 40 years of songwriting success. A Florida native, Braddock moved to Nashville in 1964 and worked for a time as Marty Robbins’ piano player. His classic cuts include Tammy Wynette’s divine “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and George Jones’ iconic (and ACM Award-winning) “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” as well as the famous couple’s enduring duet, “Golden Ring.” Braddock also earned ACM nominations as a songwriter for Tracy Lawrence’s “Time Marches On,” Toby Keith’s “I Wanna Talk About Me” and Billy Currington’s “People Are Crazy.” He joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011.
Roger Miller charmed listeners with characteristic wit on classics like “King of the Road” and “Dang Me.” Miller, an Oklahoma native, grabbed early songwriting success with Ray Price’s “Invitation to the Blues.” In 1985, he earned acclaim for writing the score of the musical Big River. To honor his brilliant career, he received the 1987 ACM Pioneer Award. Miller died in 1992 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1995. Contemporary stars like Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson have kept his legacy alive with terrific renditions of “Husbands and Wives” and “Tall, Tall Trees,” respectively.
MBI & INDUSTRY AWARDS
The winners of the MBI and Industry Awards are voted based on Academy of Country Music ballots in their respected category. Honorees included:
Winners of the MBI (Musician/Bandleader/Instrumentalist) categories:
- Stuart Duncan - Fiddle Player of the Year
- Shannon Forrest - Percussionist/Drummer of the Year
- Paul Franklin - Steel Guitar Player of the Year
- Kenny Greenberg - Guitarist of the Year
- Aubrey Haynie - Specialty Instrument(s) Player of the Year
- John Hobbs - Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year
- Frank Liddell - Producer of the Year
- Justin Niebank - Audio Engineer of the Year
- Michael Rhodes - Bass Player of the Year
Winners of the Industry Awards categories:
- Jimmy Jay, Jayson Promotions, Inc. – Don Romeo Talent Buyer of the Year
- Brian O’Connell, Live Nation – Promoter of the Year
- Billy Bob’s Texas (Ft. Worth, TX) – Nightclub of the Year
- Bridgestone Arena (Nashville, TN) – Venue of the Year
- Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino (Las Vegas, NV) – Casino of the Year