The Academy of Country Music has announced the recipients of its special honors, with Dierks Bentley tapped to receive the ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award, in recognition of a career that has spanned eight albums and blazed a unique trail with his artistry, just as the award's namesake did during his lifetime. Bentley, whose new LP The Mountain was recorded in
The ACM Honors will also bestow the ACM Poet's Award to songwriter Matraca Berg and late producer-songwriter Norro Wilson, while the Cliffie Stone Icon Award will be given to country legend Alan Jackson, and the Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award to Darius Rucker, for "improving lives through the power of music" as voted on by the ACM Lifting Lives Board of Directors.
Sam Hunt receives the Gene Weed Milestone Award, recognized for his single "Body Like a Back Road," which broke and reset the genre's one-week streaming record 14 times during the year, set the one-year country streaming mark only six weeks after its release, and was the fastest country song to earn 100 million streams in history, after just 12 weeks. The year's most downloaded country song at iTunes and the most-heard song on country radio (according to Country Aircheck/Mediabase and Billboard), it also spent a record 34 weeks at the Number One spot on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.
Previously announced winner Rhett Akins will receive Songwriter of the Year, 20 years after his first recognition, which came with a nomination for Top New Male Vocalist.
These and other award recipients will be celebrated during the 12th Annual ACM Honors event set for Wednesday, August 22nd, at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.