2023 PEOPLE'S CHOICE COUNTRY AWARDS -- Pictured: Toby Keith performs on stage during the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards held at the Grand Ole Opry House on September 28, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Toby Keith Gives Emotional Performance Amid Cancer Battle at People's Choice Country Awards

"I want to thank the Almighty for allowing me to be here tonight."

Toby Keith received the inaugural Country Icon award at the first ever People's Choice Country Awards. After being presented with the award by Blake Shelton, Keith took the stage to perform his song "Don't Let the Old Man In." The powerful song took on an even deeper meaning amid Keith's ongoing battle with stomach cancer.

During his acceptance speech, Keith reflected on his cancer fight, leading off with a comment that showcased the Oklahoma legend's sense of humor.

"I bet you never thought y'all would see me in skinny jeans," Keith said. "I want to thank the Almighty for allowing me to be here tonight, he's been riding shot gun with me for a little while now."

The "Should've Been a Cowboy" singer went on to thank his family and fans.

"I want to thank my beautiful family that's here," he said, before sharing his gratitude for the fans who've supported him for so many years. "I want to thank the fans for still allowing us to do what we do."

Keith penned "Don't Let the Old Man In" after a conversation with acting legend Clint Eastwood. The song was later featured in Eastwood's film The Mule.

"I [asked] 'What keeps you going?' and he said 'I get up every day and don't let the old man in.' And I went 'I'm writing this damn thing right now'," Keith said during a 2018 recent press conference. "I didn't ask if I could put it in the movie. I just went home and wrote it and sent it to him and hoped that he would consider it. And, you know, he did."

Willie Nelson later recorded the song for his album First Rose of Spring. 


READ MORE: Toby Keith Songs: The 20 Best By a Living Legend