The late Merle Haggard will be honored at the May 1st American Country Countdown Awards with a special performance by his former band and Toby Keith. The Country Music Hall of Famer passed away April 6th at the age of 79; the ACCAs are the first awards ceremony to be held since.
Actor and Texas native Matthew McConaughey will introduce the segment, which will find Haggard’s longtime band the Strangers performing alongside Keith. Members of the Haggard family will be in attendance, including the country legend’s wife Teresa and son Ben, who plays guitar in the Strangers.
There’s no word on what songs the performance might include, but Keith is a lifelong fan of Haggard’s music and sang alongside the icon during one of his final shows in February. Haggard was suffering from the pneumonia that would eventually take his life, and knew he wouldn’t be able to sing through the whole concert, so Keith stepped in to finish the show.
The day Haggard died, Keith posted a simple put powerful message on his social media accounts. “The greatest singer songwriter of my lifetime is gone,” Keith wrote. “Thanks for the music and friendship. R.I.P. Hag.”
Keith’ss performance with the Strangers joins an already-announced ACCAs lineup that includes Kelsea Ballerini, Brooks & Dunn, Luke Bryan, Cam, Dan + Shay, Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, Martina McBride, Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell and Carrie Underwood.
The 2016 American Country Countdown Awards air live from the Forum in Inglewood, California, on May 1st at 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX. The two-hour show will be the first country awards ceremony to take place in Los Angeles in more than 10 years.