The Academy of Country Music has created an amazing way to honor the memory of music legend Merle Haggard. The country legend sadly passed away on Apr. 6 of this year — his 79th birthday. The ACM will now, for the first time ever, bestow the Merle Haggard Spirit Award on a country musician at the upcoming 10th ACM Honors award show.
The Spirit Award will go to a performer “whose career reflects the uncompromising integrity and steadfastness of spirit embodied by the late Merle Haggard,” according to the ACM. A recipient for the Merle Haggard Spirit Award has not been chosen at this time.
ACM Board President, Ken Tucker, explained the decision to create the award in a statement:
“Merle passed shortly after our 2016 awards show and after this year’s Special Awards were announced. 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 the first artist ever to become the “ACM Entertainer of the Year”. In fact, he won 20 ACM awards throughout his career. Haggard was also awarded the ACM Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award and the Poet’s Award.
The 10th annual ACM Honors, hosted by Lady Antebellum, will be be held at the Ryman Auditorium on Tues, Aug. 30. The show will then air Friday, Sept. 9 on CBS.