Toby Keith, Loretta Lynn, Luke Combs Among ACM Honors Winners

Other honorees include Dan+Shay, Rascal Flatts, and songwriter Hillary Lindsey

The Academy of Country Music has revealed the recipients of its Special Awards for the Academy of Country Music Awards, to be feted at this year’s ACM Honors ceremony. Several artists, including Luke Combs, Toby Keith, Loretta Lynn, Dan+Shay, country trio Lady A and Rascal Flatts, are among the honorees.

The ACM Honors will be held Aug. 25 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, to recognize the special honorees and off-camera category winners from the 55th and 56th annual Academy of Country Music Awards.

Among this year’s ACM Honors winners are Rascal Flatts, who along with music industry mogul Joe Galante, will be honored with the ACM Cliffie Stone Icon Award, which is presented to a country music artist, duo/group, or industry leader who have advanced the popularity of the genre via their contributions to various areas of the industry, including songwriting, recording, production, touring, film, television, literary works, philanthropic contributions and other goodwill efforts.

Country trio Lady A and writer/producer Ross Copperman will be honored with the ACM Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award, which honors a country music artist, duo/group or industry professional who is committed to improving lives through the power of music and who also has a generosity of spirit and is devoted to serving others.

Luke Combs will be honored with the ACM Gene Weed Milestone Award, presented to a country artist, duo/group or industry leader for a specific, unprecedented or outstanding achievement in the field of country music during the preceding calendar year. In Combs’ case, he is one of “a very few artists” to claim double-platinum status in 2021, thanks to his album What You See Is What You Get earning that distinction with five No. 1 hits including, “Beer Never Broke My Heart,” “Even Though I’m Leaving,” “Does to Me” “Lovin’ on You,” and “Better Together.” Combs is the only Country artist ever to carry his first 10 singles to No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. After being chosen for the ACM Milestone Award, Combs recently charted another No.1 hit “Forever After All”. It’s the sixth chart topper from the album What You See Is What You Get and his 11th overall.

Dan+Shay have been chosen to receive the ACM 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. The duo has garnered more than 7.6 billion global career streams and did a sold-out 2019 UK tour (building upon earlier UK tours in 2016 and 2017) as well as a sold-out Australian trek with Shawn Mendes. Among other successes, the duo’s hit “10,000 Hours,” a collaboration with Justin Bieber, was also certified 4x platinum in Canada, 3x platinum in Australia and Platinum in the Netherlands and gold in Brazil, Ireland, Sweden and New Zealand.

Toby Keith, known for penning many of his own hits, such as “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” has been named the recipient of the ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award, which is presented to a singer-songwriter who is continuing the legacy of country legend and 20-time ACM winner Haggard by carving their own path, crafting solid songs and epitomizing Haggard’s artistic spirit through excellent storytelling and performances.

The recipients of the ACM Poet’s Award are Loretta Lynn (writer of “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Fist City,” and numerous other hits), Gretchen Peters (“Independence Day,” “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am,” “Here I Am”) and Curly Putman (“Green, Green Grass of Home,” “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “D-I-V-O-R-C-E”) (posthumously). This award honors a country music songwriter for outstanding and longstanding musical legacy and/or lyrical contributions throughout their career. Special consideration is given to the songs’ impact on the culture of country music.

Hillary Lindsey, known for penning hit songs such as “Jesus, Take The Wheel,” “Church Bells,” “Girl Crush,” “Heaven Down Here,” and more, has been chosen as the recipient of the ACM Songwriter of the Year. This award is presented to an individual known predominately as a songwriter, selected by a Professional Panel of judges composed of songwriters, publishers, producers, and performing rights organization representatives. This marks Lindsey’s second consecutive time winning the honor.

Meanwhile, Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary has been chosen as the recipient for the ACM Tex Ritter Film Award, honoring an outstanding television movie, series or feature film released during the preceding calendar year which prominently features country music.