The most anticipated moment of the 10th annual ACM Honors actually passed without controversy, as Miranda Lambert accepted the inaugural ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award. Just before the event – held August 30th at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium – alt-country favorite Sturgill Simpson stoked fires with an uncompromising denouncement of the Academy of Country Music on Facebook, citing that the award merely exploited the legacy of Haggard, who died earlier this year. Simpson later clarified that his remarks were not aimed at Lambert.
Following an emotional rendition of “Misery and Gin,” Lambert gave a speech that evoked Haggard’s memory without making any direct references to the Simpson situation. “Merle was one of my heroes,” said Lambert. “He’s the reason I write songs, he changed my life so much.” Emmylou Harris, who introduced Lambert, deftly reminded the packed Ryman house that Haggard won 20 ACM Awards and was the organization’s first Entertainer of the Year winner.
The closest thing to controversy arrived with Jimmy Webb’s acceptance speech on the heels of The Band Perry’s performance of Webb’s lost-love opus, “MacArthur Park.” Addressing the issue of digital songwriter royalties, Webb declaring that songwriters “are not being fairly compensated for their work. I strongly urge people to stand up for our songwriters.” As if on cue, the audience rose to its collective feet.
The event also gave commendable up-front recognition of country trailblazers, too often overlooked in an era caught up in the present. Glen Campbell, currently battling Alzheimer’s, was honored with the Career Achievement Award while three distinct stylists, Tanya Tucker, The Statler Brothers and Crystal Gayle, received the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award. For their songwriting prowess, both Eddie Rabbitt and Jimmy Webb were chosen for the Poet’s Award.” more:http://www.rollingstone.com/country/news/miranda-lambert-salutes-merle-haggard-at-acm-honors-w437348