When the ACM Honors show opened at the Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday night (Aug. 21), Chris Young had the honor of kicking off the ceremony with a song from one of the night’s poets.
And he chose the timeless “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight,” penned by Rodney Crowell, who was honored with one of the three Poet’s Awards of the night.
But when the song was over, and it was time for Crowell to collect his trophy, he wasn’t able to be there in person. So he sent his oldest daughter Hannah — who was born a few years after Crowell moved to Nashville in 1972 to chase his neon dream — to accept it on his behalf. And it was obvious from the minute she took the stage that she’d inherited he father’s way with words.
Earlier in the week, she’d been talking with her dad about everyday things — Netflix and whatnots — and as they were hanging up, he said, “Oh, I need you to accept an award for me.”
“So I had to Google what this was tonight,” Hannah shared. “He told me absolutely nothing, which is very him. He’s not one for accolades or flattery. So I asked him what I should say, and he said, ’You just speak you truth.'”
And this was Hannah’s truth:
“This is a very fitting award for my father, because he is truly a poet to his core. He is a poet in the songs that he writes. He is a poet in the way he plays with his grandbabies. He is a poet in the way he used to peel into the parking lot at our conservative Christian school with a top hat on, blaring Bob Dylan. (I knew he did that just to instill in my little brain the importance of being on the outskirts and being who you are.) He is a poet in his friendships. He is a poet in what a beautiful mentor he is to young artists. He is a poet in his deep commitment to being truly authentically himself. As an artist, and as a human being.
“I know that somewhere deep in his humble soul, this feels really good to him.”
In addition to Crowell’s success as an artist since he released his debut album Ain’t Living Long Like This in 1978, he also amassed a long list of singles from other artists who treasured his every word. Some of those include Alan Jackson’s “Song for the Life,” Keith Urban’s “Making Memories of Us,” Lee Ann Womack’s “Ashes By Now,” Wynonna Judd’s “Sing,” Vince Gill’s “Oklahoma Borderline,” and Tim McGraw’s “Please Remember Me.”
Kye Fleming and Billy Joe Shaver were the other poets selected for this year’s Poet’s Award. It is a special songwriter award that goes to the hit makers who have contributed musically and lyrically throughout their careers. Other celebrated poets who penned their way to this award include Bill Anderson, Matraca Berg, Bobby Braddock, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, Guy Clark, Jack Clement, Hank Cochran, Dean Dillon, Merle Haggard, Tom T. Hall, Harlan Howard, Toby Keith, Kris Kristofferson, Bob McDill, Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, Eddie Rabbitt, Fred Rose, Shel Silverstein, Don Schlitz, Cindy Walker, Jimmy Webb, Hank Williams and Norro Wilson.