Awards shows are nice. But have you been to an awards show that celebrates everything that everyone loves about country music?
Because that is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of show that no fan should ever miss. Instead of just awarding what we all know and love — the artists and the songs — the ACM Honors ceremony honors everybody else.
So instead of a long list of country artists singing their own songs, they’re singing the songs of the artists being celebrated. Which makes the entire night feel like one big Mutual Adoration Society meeting. (We are card-carrying members, by the way.)
This is the country music we celebrated at the 2019 ACM Honors ceremony at the Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday night (Aug. 21):
Midland performed the song they wrote with Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally, who took home the ACM songwriter of the year award later in the show.
“You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone”
Ashley McBryde and singer-songwriter Chris Harris took turns on vocals for this 1995 Brooks & Dunn ballad.
“One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)”
Trisha Yearwood, who wasn’t officially scheduled to perform, did so anyway to with this Frank Sinatra cover to support her friend Gayle Holcomb on the night she won the Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award.
“I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”
The reverence Maddie & Tae have for old-school country was alive and well when they covered this 1981 Barbara Mandrell hit in order to honor Mandrell, and the song’s co-writers Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan.
“Sleeping Single in a Double Bed”
Also from the poetic pens of Fleming and Morgan, newcomer Tenille Townes sang her heart out on this 1978 Mandrell hit.
“Honky Tonk Heroes”
Chris Janson, equipped with only his voice, his guitar and his harmonica, did his best Billy Joe Shaver on this 1970s signature tune.
“I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)”
Another Shaver song, recorded by John Anderson in 1981, made it into Janson’s medley from one of the night’s honorees.
As part of Lauren Alaina’s musical love letter to Martina McBride, she sang this 1994 hit about domestic abuse and somehow, made it sound both carefree and spirited.
When Caylee Hammack was paying her dues in the honky-tonks on Lower Broadway, this 1997 anthem of McBride’s was her go-to cover song. She know how to belt it, and belt it she did.
View this post on Instagram
3 years ago, I would sing this same song almost every night for $20 across the alleyway at @tootsies_orchid_lounge for whoever would listen. Tonight, I got to walk across that alleyway and into the backstage entrance of @theryman to honor the woman who brought this song to life. @martinamcbride you are such an inspiration to so many young artists who would not be who they are if it were not for artists like you, who took chances on songs and stories that no one else could do justice. You made the world stop and listen. To honor you tonight was sincerely one of the biggest honors of my life. Thank you God for moments like this. (illegally in the mother church?): @mikeyreaves
“Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight”
Chris Young opened the ACM Honors show with one of the most timeless country songs of the night, from the pen of one of the night’s honorees Rodney Crowell. Emmylou Harris had covered it in 1978, and The Oak Ridge Boys did so in 1979.