ACM Honors: Toby Keith to Receive Merle Haggard Spirit Award - Rolling Stone
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ACM Honors: Toby Keith to Receive Merle Haggard Spirit Award

Loretta Lynn, Luke Combs, and Rascal Flatts are among the other honorees at the 2021 ceremony

Toby KeithToby Keith

Toby Keith will receive the Merle Haggard Spirit Award at the 2021 ACM Honors.

Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Country Thunder

The Academy of Country Music has announced the honorees for its special awards and off-camera winners of 2021. The 14th annual ACM Honors will pay tribute to such country artists as Toby Keith, Loretta Lynn, and Luke Combs at an August ceremony in Nashville.

Keith will receive the Merle Haggard Spirit Award, presented to a “singer-songwriter who is continuing the legacy” of Haggard by “following his/her own path, crafting great songs and epitomizing Merle’s spirit through genuine performances and great storytelling.” Past recipients include Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley. Keith, known for such hits as “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” “As Good as I Once Was,” and “American Soldier,” recently announced a new summer tour that kicks off in June in Arizona.

Lynn is among three recipients of this year’s Poet’s Award. The “Coal Miner’s Daughter” songwriter joins Gretchen Peters and Curly Putman in receiving the honor for “outstanding and longstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their career,” while Combs receives the Gene Weed Milestone Award for a “specific, unprecedented or outstanding achievement in the field of country music.”

The 14th annual ACM Honors will be held August 25th at the Ryman Auditorium. The Academy of Country Music also announced that its ACM Party for a Cause music festival will return in some fashion that same month in Nashville.

Here’s the full list of ACM Honors recipients for 2021:

Cliffie Stone Icon Award: Joe Galante, Rascal Flatts
Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award: Lady A and Ross Copperman
Gene Weed Milestone Award: Luke Combs
Jim Reeves International Award: Dan + Shay
Mae Boren Axton Service Award: RAC Clark
Merle Haggard Spirit Award: Toby Keith
Poet’s Award: Loretta Lynn, Gretchen Peters, Curly Putnam
Tex Ritter Film Award: Ken Burns’ Country Music
Songwriter of the Year: Hillary Lindsey


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