Charlie Daniels received the ACM Spirit Award posthumously during the broadcast of the 2023 ACM Honors on Fox on Monday night (Sept. 18), and his son was on hand to give an emotional speech on his father’s behalf.
The ACM awards the Spirit Award to honor the legacy of Merle Haggard. The award goes annually to an artist “who is continuing the legacy of country legend and 20-time ACM Award winner Merle Haggard by following his/her own path, crafting great songs and epitomizing Merle’s spirit through genuine performances and great storytelling,” according to the ACM website.
Charlie Daniels Jr. took the stage at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville during the live ceremony on Aug. 23, thanking the assembled industry-only audience for their support and recognition for Daniels over the years.
Billy Ray Cyrus, Firerose and Travis Denning also paid musical tribute to Daniels by performing “Long Haired Country Boy,” even changing the lyric, “But I will take another toke” to “But I will tell another joke” to honor his decision to do so.
Chris Stapleton received the ACM Triple Crown Award at the 2023 ACM Honors, while Kane Brown accepted the ACM International Award. Clint Black and Mary Chapin Carpenter also received the Poet’s Award, and K.T. Oslin earned it posthumously.
Carly Pearce hosted the 2023 ACM Honors, which will be available to stream via Hulu beginning Tuesday (Sept. 19).