Kelsea Ballerini, Eric Church, Dolly Parton and More to Be Lauded at 2017 ACM Honors
The Academy of Country Music has announced the 2017 winners of its special awards, to be honored during the upcoming 2017 ACM Honors ceremony. Kelsea Ballerini, Eric Church, Dolly Parton and more are among those who will receive the ACM's special awards this year, as determined by the ACM's board of directors.
For her "unprecedented or outstanding achievement in the field of country music during the preceding calendar year" -- specifically, earning three consecutive No. 1 singles from her debut album -- Ballerini has earned the 2017 Gene Weed Milestone Award. The newly established honor combines the ACM's Crystal Milestone Award and Gene Weed Special Achievement Awards, previously presented to artists such as Jason Aldean, Loretta Lynn and Carrie Underwood, among many others.
Church, meanwhile, will be the second-ever recipient of the Merle Haggard Spirit Award, honoring how Church has carved his own path in country music and "epitomiz[es] Merle's spirit through genuine performances and great storytelling." The ACM established the honor in 2016; Miranda Lambert was the award's first recipient.
In 2017, Parton will be receiving the ACM's Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award, a new combination of the ACM's Humanitarian Award and Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award; the honor "is presented to a country music artist, duo / group or industry professional who is devoted to improving lives through the power of music, has a generosity of spirit and is committed to serving others," and its winner is determined by the ACM Lifting Lives board of directors. Parton earned the award this year specifically for her fundraising efforts to help those in her native East Tennessee following November's destructive wildfires. Past Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award recipients include Vince Gill, Martina McBride and more.
The 2017 ACM Honors ceremony will also include a number of other awards presentations: George Strait will receive the Cliffie Stone Icon Award (formerly the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award), which is given to a country music act or industry leader "who, throughout their career, has advanced the popularity of the genre through their contributions in multiple facets of the industry," while Reba McEntire and radio host Bob Kingsley are being given the Mae Boren Axton Service Award, in recognition of their "years of dedication and service to the Academy of Country Music." Toby Keith, Willie Nelson and the late Shel Silverstein are being honored with the Poet's Award, in recognition of their songwriting contributions, and the TV show Nashville is 2017's Tex Ritter Film Award winner; the honor "recognizes an outstanding television movie, series or feature film released during the preceding calendar year which prominently features country music."
The 2017 ACM Honors ceremony is scheduled to take place at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on Aug. 23; the event, now in its 11th year, will air on CBS at a later date, yet to be announced. In addition to the aforementioned awards winners, 2017 ACM Songwriter of the Year Lori McKenna and the winners of 2017's Industry Awards and Studio Recording Awards will also be feted during the event.
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