When you can’t attend the fabulous ACM Honors show in Nashville, you use the services of one half of UK Duo GasolineandMatches.. Sally Rae Morris
When you’re spending your summer in Nashville, you already feel like a very lucky lady. But to receive the news you have been invited to attended the 11th ACM Honors show at The Mother Church of country on behalf of Think Country, I felt like I’d just been given the golden ticket!
On any given day in Music City, there is a buzz in the air. If you’re not running into Sam Hunt at breakfast, you’re been treated to a surprise appearance from Kacey Musgraves at The American Legion. With over a million extra people in town to watch the Solar Eclipse, Broadway was heaving. I waited anxiously in line to enter the Ryman alongside countless limousines and tour busses; a sure sign there are a whole host of country legends attending tonight.
After spending a a casual 18 dollars on a double Jack and Coke (yes be warned the prices are steep here so best make it last!), I made my way into the auditorium and found my seat. It wasn’t too long before the lights dimmed and Brett Young made his way to the stage. He was presenting awards to many of the instrumentalist that play all of our favourite songs and the venues that host our favourite artists.
When the 125 year old Ryman was announced as one of the recognised venues it was greeted by a mighty round of applause from the audience. Opening the show with some of Reba’s biggest hits was Hillary Scott, Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman, ending the medley on a fab version on Little Rock before Reba collected her Mae Boren Axton Award.
Toby Keith followed collecting his Poets Award performing ‘Should’ve been a cowboy’ and ‘Who’s your daddy’. Kelsea Ballerini sang a beautiful stripped down version of her most recent release ‘Legends’. While accepting her Gene Weed Milestone Award she could barely find the words as she fought back the tears. Her journey has been a whirlwind and she credited her success to her naivety. She made a very powerful statement that ‘..when you don’t know the odds and you don’t know what doesn’t work, you can do anything’. A quick touch up of makeup, and we were treated to a short but sweet medley of ‘Love me like you mean it’, ‘Dibs’ and ‘Peter Pan’.
Next up was Chris Janson rocking out to some of Shel Silverstein’s songs. His harp playing and charisma was electric and he was definitely one of the stand out performances for me.
In true Brad Paisley fashion, before presenting Dolly Parton with the Gary Haberman Lifting Lives Award, he played the song he said always reminded him of her ‘Tennessee Mountains’; of course the whole auditorium laughed at that one! Dolly was wearing a fabulous pink sequinned gown, and even though she didn’t perform, she still delivered some witty comebacks to Brad and had a great rapport with the crowd.
Hunter Hayes made a surprise appearance, followed by Charles Esten & Claire Bowen. Seeing the stars of Nashville perform in Nashville really bridges the gap between fiction and reality because you see how the show has truly created stars in their own right. Claire’s voice has such vulnerability and their choice of ‘Sanctuary’ was perfect. An emotional moment in the show was the tribute to the great Glen Campbell. It resonated with me, as he passed the day we landed in Tennessee. His family was there in the audience and his presence was definitely felt in the room as Maren Morris sang a stunning rendition of ‘Galveston’.
I enjoyed seeing Thomas Rhett for the first time back at C2C in 2016, so getting to see him again in a more intimate venue was great. Bobby Bones was presenting the Mae Boren Axton Award to Bob Kingsley, who Thomas Rhett thanked for helping contribute to his success by being the first radio host to play his music and support his career over the years. The last 2 awards were probably the ones I was most looking forward to. I was a little late to the party with Little Big Town as I only discovered a love for them when living in South Carolina in 2014 and ‘Boondocks’ came on the radio. I was already lucky enough to see them earlier this week at The Grand Ole Opry, (which makes up for the fact that I’m going to miss them when they play in my hometown Birmingham next month!) They performed ‘When someone stops loving you’ written by Lori McKenna. She has fast become one of my favourite songwriters. She possesses the ability to say what everyone feels so well. When she collected her Songwriter of the year award, she made me smile by accepting it on behalf of every dreamer.
The last award of the night was to be presented by Jason Aldean to George Strait for ‘Cliffie Stone Icon’. The undeniable Chris Stapleton gave me chills as he performed ‘When did you stop loving me’, followed by Alan Jackson with a 3 song medley of ‘Marina Del Rey’, ‘Firemen’ and ‘Murder on Music Row’. George Strait closed the show with ‘Here for a good time’ which seemed to be the most perfect end to an incredible night! I’m happy to say you will all get the chance to view this phenomenal show in just a few short weeks time when it airs on CBS September 15th, I know I plan on watching again!
Big thank you to Think Country for allowing me to attend and witness such an awesome all star lineup, and thank you to Nashville for just being you!