Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Randy Travis, Hank Williams Jr. Among Early ACM Winners

Other Honorees Include Kenny Rogers and the Late Harlan Howard and Jerry Reed

Merle Haggard and the late Harlan Howard will receive this year's Academy of Country Music Poets Award for their songwriting contributions to the country music canon. The ACM announced the early winners of special awards, industry awards and musician, band and instrumental awards on Tuesday (March 24).

Dolly Parton has been chosen to receive the Jim Reeves International Award, in honor of her contributions to taking country music around the world. In addition, recipients of the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award include Randy Travis, Hank Williams Jr., Kenny Rogers, and the late Jerry Reed.

Beer for My Horses, the film starring Toby Keith, has been chosen as the recipient of the Tex Ritter Award, given to a country music-oriented movie released and/or receiving major exposure during the preceding calendar year. The Mae Boren Axton Award will go to David Young, in recognition of service to the Academy of Country Music. An ACM employee for more than 20 years, Young is currently its senior director of operations.

The ACM special awards listed above are voted on by the ACM board of directors.

The ACM also revealed the winners of its musician, band and instrumental awards, as well as the industry categories. Winners were determined by ballot.

Musicians include Tom Bukovac (guitarist), Gordon Mote (piano/keyboards), Glenn Worf (bass), Greg Morrow (percussionist/drummer), Dan Dugmore (steel guitar), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle) and Eric Darken and Jelly Roll Johnson (specialty instrument). Chuck Ainlay was named audio engineer of the year, and Tony Brown won producer of the year.

The industry awards went to Joe Bar's in Chicago (nightclub), Turning Stone Casino in Verona, N.Y. (casino) and the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville (venue). Fran Romeo of Romeo Entertainment won the Don Romeo Talent Buyer of the Year award, and Louis Messina of the Messina Group was named promoter of the year.

Early winners will be formally honored at a ceremony in Nashville on Sept. 22. The winners in remaining categories will be revealed on April 5 during the ACM Awards in Las Vegas.

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