ACM Creates Award To Celebrate Merle Haggard’s Legacy

Merle Haggard. Photo: Myriam Santos

Merle Haggard. Photo: Myriam Santos

The Academy of Country Music will present its first ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award this month.

Approved by the ACM Special Awards Panel and voted on by the ACM Board, the criteria for the award is described this way:

The ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award, created this year, will be awarded to a singer-songwriter and performer whose career reflects the uncompromising integrity and steadfastness of spirit embodied by the late Merle Haggard. Beyond crafting iconic songs and delivering genuine performances, this deserving artist—like Haggard—is characterized by their singular vision in carving an indelible path in country music.

The Academy will bestow the inaugural ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award at the 10th Annual ACM Honors, to be held Aug. 30 at the Ryman Auditorium. The event will be filmed for a CBS special set to air on Sept. 9.

The recipient of the award has not yet been announced.

“Merle passed shortly after our 2016 awards show and after this year’s Special Awards were announced,” says ACM Board President Ken Tucker. “That said, there was simply no way the Academy could hold what may be its most heartfelt event – ACM Honors – without creating a lasting way to acknowledge his legacy. Celebrating and encouraging artists whose work echoes Merle Haggard’s indomitable spirit is beyond fitting. On behalf of the board, and with the blessing of his family, we are thrilled to create this important honor.”

Haggard was an early supporter of the Los Angeles-based ACM and its first Entertainer of the Year in 1970. That honor also made him the Academy’s first Triple Crown recipient, having been awarded Male Vocalist of the Year in 1966 and Most Promising Male Vocalist in 1965. Overall, he is a 20-time ACM honoree and was bestowed with the ACM Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award and the Poet’s Award.

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Craig Shelburne is the General Manager at MusicRow.

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