“As I look around the room tonight, the one word that comes to mind is respect,” he stated from the podium on Tuesday night (Dec. 3) in Nashville.
“I see guys that I grew up idolizing and trying to be like, singing their songs in the club. Tim [McGraw]. Dwight Yoakam. Travis Tritt, I won a contest playing one of your songs. Which paid for my first car — appreciate it.”
After the laughs and cheers subsided, Aldean added, “Over the years, it’s been fun to see my buddies and their careers take off. Luke [Bryan], Florida Georgia [Line], Lady Antebellum, Dierks [Bentley] right there. It’s really cool to be a part of this fraternity and what’s going on in Nashville now.”
Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Hunter Hayes and McGraw were also fellow honorees this year. Aldean accepted his trophy from Nashville actress Hayden Panettierre.
“Country music is one of the coolest things in the world. I’m glad to be a part of it. I’m glad that people like what I do,” Aldean said as he was winding down his remarks. “I’m very fortunate to be able to do this for a living — make records, go out on tour and play these shows.”
Along with thanking his daughters and his business associates, Aldean concluded, “I tell you, I wake up every day and I’m thankful for what you guys let me do. So, to the fans, thank you so much. Thank you country radio, CMT and everybody who’s supported us over the years. I appreciate it.”