Eric Church and Willie Nelson are among the honorees for this year's Academy of Country Music Special Awards. Honorees will be celebrated at the 11th annual ACM Honors ceremony, which takes place at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on August 23rd.
Church will receive the coveted Merle Haggard Spirit Award, which is given to the artist who best represents the legacy of the late country legend. Last year's Merle Haggard Spirit Award went to Miranda Lambert.
Nelson is one of three writers – Toby Keith and the late Shel Silverstein rounding out the trio – who will receive the Poet's Award. As its name suggests, the Poet's Award recognizes songwriters who have made "outstanding and longstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their career[s]."
Other honorees include George Strait (the Cliffie Stone Icon Award), Dolly Parton (the Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award), Kelsea Ballerini (the Gene Weed Milestone Award), Bob Kingsley and Reba McEntire (both receiving the Mae Boren Axton Service Award), the television series Nashville (the Tex Ritter Film Award), and Lori McKenna (Songwriter of the Year Award).
McKenna's win was previously announced among the off-camera categories during April's 52nd annual ACM Awards. She is the first woman to win a Songwriter of the Year trophy.
The ACM Honors will be filmed for broadcast on CBS at date yet to be announced.