One of contemporary country music's most intrepid artists will be celebrated for going against the grain at tomorrow night's ACM Honors when Miranda Lambert receives the inaugural Merle Haggard Spirit Award.
According to the Academy of Country Music, the new award recognizes "uncompromising artists in the spirit of Merle Haggard, while acknowledging a man who has figured prominently in ACM history." That description perfectly sums up Lambert, who has made a career out of pushing the genre's boundaries while keeping one foot firmly planted in its traditional roots. Her latest single "Vice" nods to classic country in both its unfiltered – and self-destructive – lyrics and its loping beat, but boasts a vital, slashing guitar solo.
Haggard has long been an influence on Lambert, who has taken to performing his songs during her concerts. At the 2010 All for the Hall fundraiser in Nashville, she sang his barroom anthem "The Bottle Let Me Down" and, while still in the nascent stage of her career, performed "The Fightin' Side of Me" on USA's Nashville Star in 2003.
The ACM Honors will air Friday, September 9th, on CBS. It's the first time the ceremony, which presents the off-camera categories from the 51st ACM Awards, has aired on television. Along with Lambert's special award, other noteworthy recipients include Glen Campbell receiving the Career Achievement Award, Carrie Underwood lauded with the ACM Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award, and Keith Urban honored with the Mae Boren Axton Award. Lady Antebellum hosts the ceremonies, taped at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.