The Academy of Country Music has rolled out the biggest news about its 16th annual ACM Honors event, happening Aug. 23 in Nashville — who the specially selected honorees will be, traditionally a curated mix of current superstars, veteran artists and industry execs or broadcast personalities.
Chris Stapleton, Kane Brown and Tim McGraw are the reigning artist titans represented in the honorary awards, with Breland and Hardy representing a newer guard. Mary Chapin Carpenter, Clint Black and K.T. Oslin are the longer-standing artists getting their flowers from the ACM.
Stapleton qualified for the ACM Triple Crown Award after being named entertainer of the year at the most recent ACM Awards for the first time. The honor goes to anyone who gets that top honor after previously having been named male (or female) vocalist of the year and new male (or female) vocalist of the year at the ACMs. Only eight artists have ever achieved the feat. (Stapleton’s predecessors: Jason Aldean, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Mickey Gilley, Merle Haggard, Miranda Lambert, Barbara Mandrell and Carrie Underwood.)
McGraw will be getting the Icon award, along with Mike Dungan, one of the most well-known execs ever to reign in Nashville. Dungan retired this year as chairman-CEO of Universal Music Group Nashville, handing over leadership of the company to Cindy Mabe; he previously stood atop labels like Arista Nashville and Capitol Nashville, going back to the early 1990s.
Brown will be getting the ACM International Award, recognizing his advancement of country music beyond the U.S., as his 2022-23 touring found success in arenas throughout the U.K. and Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other markets hungry for what Nashville has to offer.
The ACM Lift Every Voice Award is being given for the first time, with Breland as its inaugural recipient. It’s designated for an artist or exec “who plays a pivotal role in elevating underrepresented voices throughout the country music genre, transcending demographics and geography.”
The ACM Poet’s Award has three recipients this year, all of them major hitmakers in the ’80s and/or ’90s — Carpenter, Oslin and Black — each getting an honor “presented to a country music songwriter for outstanding and longstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their career, with special consideration given to a song or songs’ impact on the culture of country music.”
On the philanthropic front, Troy Vollhoffer is getting the Lifting Lives Award, while Charlie Cook and Bill Mayne will pick up the Service Award, for their dedication to the ACM’s primary charitable effort in the former case and service to the ACM itself in the latter.
Charlie Daniels is the posthumous recipient of the ACM Spirit Award, given to “a singer-songwriter who is continuing the legacy of country music legend Merle Haggard by following his/her own path, crafting great songs, and epitomizing Haggard’s spirit through genuine performances and great storytelling.”
Two figures who won voted awards during the ACM Awards process and were already announced as winners then will get a chance at the ACM Honors show to formally accept their trophies: Hardy, who won artist-songwriter of the year, and Ashley Gorley, who was voted songwriter of the year among non-recording artists.
Carly Pearce will host for the third year in a row. The ACM Honors show takes place Aug. 23 at the Ryman Auditorium, with tickets going up via a presale this Thursday and to the general public on Friday through AXS. (The show has been televised some years, although no broadcast or webcast component has yet been announced.)