By Gayle Thompson theboot.com
The 9th annual ACM Honors were held last night (Sept. 1) at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, awarding artists like Luke Bryan, Alabama, Eric Church and Loretta Lynn, with musical tributes sung by artists like Randy Houser, Jason Aldean, Holly Williams and Miranda Lambert.
Houser, who is currently serving as the opening act on Bryan’s 2015 Kick the Dust Up Tour, performed Bryan’s No.1 single, “Roller Coaster,” before presenting Bryan with the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award.
“Sept. 1, 2001 I moved to Nashville on a dream on this day. I never thought I’d get even let into the Ryman, stand on the stage, or have a chance to accept an award like this,” Bryan said. “We got two things on our minds. We got music that we’re making, and we want to give it to some awesome people, the fans out there.”
Aldean performed a medley of Alabama’s hits, including “Tennessee River,” “Love In the First Degree” and “The Closer You Get,” before presenting them with the Career Achievement Award.
“When I was a kid, some of the first music I remember hearing was from Alabama,” Aldean recalled. “It was one of the things that made me want to be part of a band, and made being in a band really cool. Randy Owen made being the lead singer in a band even cooler. Some of the music they did was something that really resonated with me.”
“It was just really different from anything else at the time,” he continued. “For me, these guys are a huge reason that I’m in this business, and wanted to do this for a living, and I know it’s the reason a lot of other guys are in this business as well.”
“I want to say thanks to my daddy,” an emotional Owen said after accepting the trophy with his band mates, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook. “He taught me how to play the guitar. Three chords. I messed that up learning a whole lot of other chords from the Beatles and stuff ”
Williams performed a stunning rendition of Church’s “Like Jesus Does,” before presenting Church with the Jim Reeves International Award.
“I remember being in Cologne, Germany,” Church said. “I think it was the most scared I have ever been. I saw people that didn’t speak English. I remember thinking, this could go one of two ways. I smelled marijuana, and I thought, ‘This is going to be okay.’ They sang every song. They held their boots up. They smoked marijuana. I learned something that night. You don’t need to speak English to speak music fluently.”
Lambert capped off the night with a performance of Lynn’s “Rated X,” before presenting the 83-year-old with the Crystal Milestone Award.
“Thank you, Miss Loretta, for that song, and being so brave, and paving the way for me to stand up here and sing a song like that. She sang songs that were not necessarily appropriate at times, like this for me,” Lambert quipped. “I’m glad to be here singing for my friend.”
Clad in a floor-length pale blue sparkling gown, Lynn took the stage to accept the award.
“I just thought I’d drop in to see if Miranda was keeping it country,” Lynn joked to thunderous applause. “I want to thank you all for the award, and I’ll be back next year for another one.”
Jake Owen returned to host the ACM Honors for the second year in a row. Kelsea Ballerini and the Swon Brothers were among the award presenters for the night. Roy Clark performed “Yesterday When I Was Young,” honoring writer Barry Adelman, while Restless Heart sang “The Bluest Eyes in Texas” for songwriter and music industry executive Tim DuBois. Josh Turner sang “Good Ol’ Boys Like Me” in recognition of songwriter Bob McDill, and Kacey Musgraves sang “Good Ol’ Boys Club,” honoring songwriter Luke Laird.
A complete list of winners can be found at ACMCountry.com.