The honorees reflect the off-camera winners from the 53rd annual ACM Awards, and they will be recognized for their specific achievements during the 12th annual ACM Honors ceremony at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on Aug. 22. Recipients of the industry and studio recording awards will be revealed at a later date.
Jackson will receive the Cliffie Stone Icon award, which honors individuals whose careers have significantly contributed to the advancement of country music in popular culture. Past recipients include George Strait, Alabama, Garth Brooks and Glen Campbell.
Jackson, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, continues to tour as a major headliner. The Georgia native’s numerous hits include “Here in the Real World,” “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow,” “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” “Midnight in Montgomery,” “She’s Got the Rhythm (And I Got the Blues),” “Chattahoochee,” “Livin’ on Love,” “Gone Country and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.” “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” his reflection on the 9/11 attacks, is also an ACM song of the year. On tour through Aug. 17, Jackson will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 14 in New York City.
Hunt is the recipient of the Gene Weed Milestone Award, which is presented to a country act or an industry leader for their unprecedented achievements during the preceding calendar year. Hunt is being recognized for his record-breaking hit “Body Like a Back Road,” the song of the year at the 2017 CMT Artists of the Year ceremony.
The popular smash shattered records for the most consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard’s hot country songs chart as the longest-running No. 1 by a solo artist in history.
It is 2017’s No. 1 most-downloaded country song with 1.6 million tracks sold, and it is the No. 1 most-streamed country song of the year with over 325 million streams. Previous recipients of the Gene Weed Milestone Award include Jason Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini, Kenny Chesney and Merle Haggard.
Bentley will receive the Merle Haggard Spirit Award, an honor presented to a singer-songwriter who embodies the legacy of the late country icon with authentic storytelling and genuine performances. Eric Church and Miranda Lambert previously won this honor.
Rucker will receive the ACM Lifting Lives Gary Haber award, which recognizes artists and industry figures for their philanthropic endeavors. Throughout his career, Rucker has been a staunch advocate of several causes supporting children and education. He serves on the board of the Charleston Children’s Hospital in his home state of South Carolina. He has also volunteered time to support various charity campaigns through the ACM’s nonprofit initiative, ACM Lifting Lives. Previous recipients of the ACM Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award include Dolly Parton and Carrie Underwood.
The 2018 Poet’s award honorees are Matraca Berg and the late Norro Wilson for their longstanding musical contributions throughout their respective careers.
A Nashville native, Berg and co-writer Bobby Braddock scored a No. 1 hit in 1983 with “Faking Love” by T.G. Sheppard and Karen Brooks when Berg was just 18 years old. A second No. 1 followed after Reba McEntire recorded “The Last One to Know” as the title song for her 1987 album. Other hits in Berg’s extensive catalog include Trisha Yearwood’s “Wrong Side of Memphis,” “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl),” and “Everybody Knows;” Patty Loveless’ “I’m That Kind of Girl” and “You Can Feel Bad” and Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine.” Suzy Bogguss, Dixie Chicks, Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Linda Ronstadt and Gretchen Wilson have also recorded her material.
Wilson worked in nearly every facet of the Nashville music industry, earning perhaps his greatest acclaim by composing classics for George Jones, Charlie Rich and Tammy Wynette. Wilson grew up in Kentucky and moved to Nashville as a teenager after joining a gospel group. He spent much of his first decade in town pursuing a performing career until a song he co-wrote, “Baby, Baby (I Know You’re a Lady),” hit No. 1 for David Houston in 1970. Wilson’s songwriting catalog grew to include Jones signatures like “A Picture of Me (Without You),” “The Grand Tour” and “The Door.” Wilson co-wrote three of Rich’s No. 1 hits: “The Most Beautiful Girl,” “A Very Special Love Song,” and “I Love My Friend.” Wynette found success with Wilson compositions such as “I’ll See Him Through,” “He Loves Me All the Way,” “My Man” and “Another Lonely Song.” Additionally, Charley Pride secured No. 1 hits in the early 1980s with “Never Been So Loved (In All My Life)” and “Night Games.” In other roles, Wilson signed Keith Whitley to RCA and co-produced several Kenny Chesney albums. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1996. Wilson passed away in 2017.
The late Rob Potts will receive the Jim Reeves International Award, which is presented to an artist or industry leader for outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country music throughout the world. Potts and his business partner Michael Chugg established the brand of CMC Rocks leading to festivals like CMC Rocks the Snowy, CMC Rocks the Hunter and CMC Rocks QLD. The latter became the first-ever sold-out country music festival in Australia, with 18,000 tickets sold for its 2018 lineup featuring Luke Bryan. Additionally, Potts managed rising artist Morgan Evans. In October 2017, Potts died following a motorcycle accident in Australia. He was 65.
The Mae Boren Axton Service Award will be presented posthumously to the late Mickey Christensen, Chris Christensen and Eddie Miller. The honor recognizes years of service and dedication to the ACM. In 1964, Mickey and Chris Christensen and performing songwriter Eddie Miller, along with performer Tommy Wiggins, co-founded the organization, the Country and Western Music Academy, to promote West Coast country artists. The entity went on to become the Academy of Country Music.
As previously announced, Rhett Akins is the recipient of the ACM’s Songwriter of the Year award. His more recent songwriting credits include Dustin Lynch’s “Small Town Boy,” Jon Pardi’s “Dirt on My Boots” and Blake Shelton’s “I Lived It,” as well as “Star of the Show” and “Life Changes” recorded by Akins’ son, Thomas Rhett. This is his third nomination for ACM Songwriter of the Year.