Chris Janson presented the ACM Industry Awards and the Studio Recording Awards. At this year’s ceremony, the winners of the 55th ACM Industry Awards, the 55th and 56th ACM Studio Recording Awards were honored. Lauren Alaina celebrated songwriter Hillary Lindsey, best known for her work writing hits for Lady Gaga and Little Big Town and creating several of Carrie Underwood’s signature hits (including Underwood’s groundbreaking single “Jesus, Take the Wheel”). Lindsey was named 55th and 56th ACM Songwriter of the Year. Alaina was then joined by Devin Dawson and HARDY to perform HARDY’s “One Beer”.
The musical part of the evening was moderated by two-time ACM prizewinner Carly Pearce, who opened the evening with an interpretation of her song “Dear Miss Loretta” in honor of Loretta Lynn. driving songs like “The Pill” and “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin ‘(With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” were awarded the ACM Poets Prize.
“Not only has your music made an indelible mark on my own songwriting, but I know it has made an indelible mark on all of the country music songwriters,” Pearce said of Lynn. “She showed me how to be real … and uncompromisingly direct, and she really paved the way for women like me in country music.”
Lynn was absent but sent a short video acceptance speech.
Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack also celebrated Lynn with a performance of Lynn’s 1973 hit duet with Conway Twitty, “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man.”
Other winners of the poet were Gretchen Peters (“Independence Day”, “On a Bus to St. Cloud”) and the late Curly Putman (“Green Green Grass of Home”, “DIVORCE”, “He Stoped Loving Her Today”). Janson gave a serious rendition of the George Jones classic “He Stopped Loving Her Today” in honor of Putman, while newcomer Brittney Spencer did a slowed-down, intimate version of “Independence Day” in honor of Peters.
“It’s nerve-wracking as hell,” said Janson. Then he told Putman, “His contribution to country music will live on forever. It will always be remembered and it will play out over the years. “
“Songs can literally change the world,” said Peters during her acceptance speech. “The world needs love and empathy more than ever. We have to turn on the car radio and hear a song that stops us on our path because it makes us feel so deep. We need our poets. “
Rascal Flatts and music manager Joe Galante received the ACM Cliffie Stone Icon Award, with Brooks & Dunn’s Ronnie Dunn honoring Galante with an interpretation of “Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You”. Pearce played “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts, followed by Caylee Hammack and RaeLynn who performed “My Wish” and “Life Is a Highway”. Gary LeVox was absent, although Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus accepted the honor.
“Twenty years can go by like this,” said Rooney. “When you are blessed enough to do what you love to do, time flies by. … We have been blessed as Rascal Flatts. “
Trio Lady A and songwriter Ross Copperman were honored with the ACM Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award. ACM Lifting Lives Executive Director Lyndsay Cruz introduced both award winners while ACM Lifting Lives Camper Clancey Hopper presented the awards. In the early evening, Executive Michael Strickland received the Gene Weed Milestone Award for his work in lobbying for laws in support of the live music industry.
ACM Jim Reeves Dan + Shay international winners were celebrated by a medley of performances by a quartet of songwriters – Nicolle Galyon, Laura Veltz, Jordan Reynolds and Jessie Jo Dillon – who featured on some of the duo’s top hits, such as as “Tequila”, “Speechless” and “10,000 hours”.
When Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney of Dan + Shay accepted their honor, the duo quickly put the songwriters back in the spotlight. Smyers said, “Without the songwriters in this town, we wouldn’t have any of it – we wouldn’t have any of the shows, no record sales, any of it. So everything starts with a song. “
“I get emotional when I watch moments like this because it’s been a long time since we could see and see some of our friends here in the crowd and actually see them face to face,” added Mooney.
The documentary by Ken Burns Country music was the winner of the ACM Tex Ritter film award. Sam Williams – son of Hank Williams Jr. and grandson of Hank Williams – delivered a soulful, raw rendition of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” on the same stage that his grandfather performed 70 years ago.
Behind every appearance was the house band led by Derek Wells, which included Elizabeth Chan, Annie Clements, Stephcynie Curry, Kris Donegan, Mike Hicks, Jordan Lawson, Justin Schipper and Therry Thomas.
The CEO of the Country Music Association, Sarah Trahern, honored RAC Clark as this year’s recipient of the ACM Mae Boren Axton Service Award. Clark was hailed by Jackson and Womack, who returned to the stage for a surprise rendition of Clark’s favorite song “Murder on Music Row”.
Trace Adkins honored the 21-time ACM winner Toby Keith with the ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award and shared how Keith – like Haggard – has achieved lasting success through first-class songwriting and an independent spirit. Adkins also performed Keith’s “Love Me If You Can” in honor of Keith, who was absent.
In a acceptance speech that Keith sent in, he called Haggard “one of the greatest songwriters in American music and one of the greatest country voices of all time.” He added, “He took me under his wing when I was young. We shared many hours and a guitar on his bus. He advised me for years. We cut each other’s songs together, we sang together, we had so much fun. I was on stage with him for the last time before he died and I will keep these memories for the rest of my life and sing with him that evening, so thank you for this award. “
When Keith Urban and Luke Combs each picked up the microphone at different points during the evening, they both decided to highlight another immensely talented performer in the show’s program.
“Two words: Ashley McBryde!” Urban exclaimed before starting with “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” in honor of Copperman. Copperman has been heavily involved in ACM Lifting Lives for at least the past decade, including attending the annual ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp.
McBryde performed twice that night, first singing her breakthrough hit “Girl Goin ‘Nowhere” in honor of esteemed journalist and ACM Senior Vice President Lisa Lee, who died on August 21st.
At the end of the show, McBryde returned on stage to honor her friend Luke Combs with a rendition of his hit song “She Got the Best of Me” when Combs was named another recipient of the ACM Gene Weed Milestone Award. Since releasing his debut single “Hurricane” in 2016, Combs has taken his first 10 singles to # 1 posterCountry Airplay Chart.
“Thanks to country music fans. [They are] the reason I can do what I love … because people like you listen to our music, love what we do, and I noticed that, ”he said. “There’s a lot more country music in this boy.”
Fans who were unable to attend the event in person will be able to watch the ceremony later this year when Circle TV will air the show on November 23 at 8 p.m. ET with an encore on November 24.
In addition to the above-mentioned honors, the following Studio Recording Award winners and Industry Award winners were also honored:
56th ACM AWARDS (2020 STUDIO RECORDING AWARD WINNER):
- Bassist of the Year: Tony Lucido
- Drummer of the Year: Aaron Sterling
- Guitarist of the Year: JT Corenflos (Posthumously awarded)
- Piano / Keyboard Player of the Year: Dave Cohen
- Special instrument player of the year: Ilya Toshinskiy
- Steel Guitarist of the Year (Tie): Dan Dugmore & Mike Johnson
- Sound engineer of the year: F. Reid Shippen
- Producer of the Year: Jay Joyce
55th ACM AWARDS (INDUSTRIAL AWARD WINNER 2019):
- Casino of the Year Theater: The Joint: Tulsa – Tulsa, OK
- Annual Arena Casino: MGM Grand Garden Arena – Las Vegas, NV
- Fair / Rodeo of the Year: Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo – Houston, TX
- Festival of the Year: Tortuga Music Festival – Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Club of the Year: Joe’s Live – Rosemont, IL
- Theater of the Year: The Beacon Theater – New York, NY
- Outdoor Location of the Year: Red Rocks Amphitheater – Morrison, CO
- Arena of the Year: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
- Don Romeo Talent Buyer of the Year: Gil Cunningham – Neste Live!
- Promoter of the Year: Brian O’Connell – Live Nation
55th ACM AWARDS (STUDIO RECORDING AWARD WINNER 2019):
- Bassist of the Year: Jimmie Lee Sloas
- Drummer of the Year: Miles McPherson
- Guitarist of the Year: Rob McNelley
- Piano / Keyboard Player of the Year: Gordon Mote
- Special Instrument (s) Player of the Year: Jenee Fleenor
- Steel Guitarist of the Year: Paul Franklin
- Sound Engineer of the Year: Justin Niebank
- Producer of the year: busbee (posthumously awarded)