The ACM Honors, which are recognitions the Academy of Country Music Awards are unable to include during the ACM’s annual televised awards program, were handed out last month and a couple Kentucky acts were among the honorees. Ashland, Kentucky natives Wynonna and Naomi Judd, better known simply as The Judds, and Sandy Hook’s late, great Keith Whitley were recognized during the honors. These Kentucky artists were honored with the prestigious Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award. Whitley’s widow, Lorrie Morgan, and children Morgan and Jesse Keith Whitley accepted this honor after Lorrie and Jesse performed “‘Til a Tear Becomes a Rose.”
The Voice coach Blake Shelton, who has mentored three of the show’s four winners thus far, was honored with the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award. Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, and Dave Haywood, who make up the trio Lady Antebellum, were awarded the Jim Reeves International Award for taking country music around the world on their last international tour. Jason Aldean was honored with the Crystal milestone Award for his outstanding concert ticket sales, including the sell-out of two shows at Boston’s Fenway Park, a whopping 70,000 tickets.
And the winners are: Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award: The Judds and Keith Whitley; Jim Reeves’ International Award: Lady Antebellum; Mae Boren Axton Award: Tommy Wiggins; Songwriter of the Year: Dallas Davidson; Poet’s Award: Guy Clark and Hank Williams; Casino of the Year: Red Rocks Casino & Resort in Las Vegas; Venue of the Year: Ryman Auditorium; Nightclub of the Year: Joe’s Bar in Chicago; Promoter of the Year: Ed Warm of Joe’s Bar; Talent Buyer of the Year: Jerry Hufford of Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, California; Audio Engineer of the Year: Chuck Ainlay; Producer of the Year: Jay Joyce; and Musician of the Year: Matt Chamberlain—percussion & drums, J.T. Corenflos—guitar, Aubrey Haynie—fiddle, Mike Johnson—steel guitar, Michael Rojas—piano & keyboard, Jimmie Lee Sloas—bass, and Ilya Toshinsky—specialty instruments.