5 Show-Stopping Moments From the 2019 ACM Honors
The 2019 ACM Honors took over the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Wednesday (Aug. 21), honoring several country music industry professionals. Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves and Brooks & Dunn were among the night's top honorees during a ceremony that featured performances by Keith Urban and Lambert, Trisha Yearwood, Ashley McBryde and more.
Read on for a peek at five of the best moments we witnessed at the 2019 ACM Honors:
This Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert duet:
Two of country music's biggest superstars closed out the evening with a poetic duet as Lambert and Urban joined in harmony for "The House That Built Me." With Urban helming on guitar, their voices shimmered alongside one another, Urban's silky vocals matching Lambert's sweet tone.
Urban also presented Lambert with the ACM Gene Weed Milestone Award, delivering a thoughtful speech recalling the days when he took her out on her first tour as an opening act for him in 2005. "What I loved about her is in her I saw a kindred spirit right away," he described, calling Lambert his "badass friend."
"You just follow your muse unapologetically, you make the records you want to make. You just stay true to yourself, follow your path, and here you are accepting this award with the most ACM Awards of all time," Urban added.
Calling Urban one of her "heroes," Lambert used the award to recognize the Nashville camaraderie. "I can't believe that we get to live this amazing life and follow our dreams and be part of this awesome community and family," she raved. "I'll never get over it."
This surprise performance by Trisha Yearwood:
After paying tribute to her friend, ACM Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award recipient Gayle Holcomb, Yearwood delivered the ultimate surprise with a performance of Frank Sinatra's "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)." Yearwood was only scheduled to present, but decided last minute to perform a track off her recent Sinatra cover album, Let's Be Frank, which she says Holcomb encouraged her to make. Accompanied only by piano, Yearwood delivered the best vocals of the night, sending her pure, crisp voice tinged with soul up to the rafters, resulting in a standing ovation.
Ashley McBryde slayed "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone":
McBryde has established herself as one of Nashville's powerhouse breakthrough acts over the past year, and it's easy to see why based on her performance at the ACM Honors. She was on hand to present Brooks & Dunn with the ACM Cliffie Stone Icon Award and was joined by her bandmate Chris Harris to honor their legacy with a performance of one of their classics, delivering a pensive rendition of the duo's "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone." Both elegant and poised, McBryde's voice was steady and glowing, proving her ability to captivate audiences with her interpretation of reflective lyrics. It was one of the best performances of the show.
Women supporting women:
Multiple times throughout the night, female artists of all generations paid tribute to one another. It began when Lauren Alaina and Caylee Hammack honored ACM Cliffie Stone Icon Award recipient Martina McBride with moving performances of "Independence Day" and "A Broken Wing," respectively. Alaina credited McBride for teaching her how to sing, recalling childhood memories of singing along to McBride's CDs on repeat, citing the icon as one of her heroes. During her acceptance speech, McBride also acknowledged the women who came before her — Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire and Emmylou Harris among them — sharing that she's long strived to embody the same "integrity" and "authenticity" they possessed.
Barbara Mandrell also made a rare appearance to honor Kye Fleming, the trailblazing songwriter behind her two biggest hits, "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed" and "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool." And when Tenille Townes and Maddie & Tae stepped up to deliver mature and polished performances of the respective numbers, both Mandrell and Fleming were in awe.
Shane McAnally speaks his truth:
One of the most honest and heartfelt moments of the night came from Songwriter of the Year winner Shane McAnally, who was also present to accept the ACM Jim Reeves International Award on behalf of his longtime friend and collaborator, Kacey Musgraves. After initially moving to Nashville with the intent of becoming an artist, McAnally has become one of the top songwriters in country music and is behind prominent hits including "Body Like a Back Road" and "Merry Go Round," and several other cuts by the likes of Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney and more.
McAnally used his time on stage to reflect on his incredible journey in country music, becoming emotional when discussing an important part of his story. "Not only did I want to be in country music — didn't know you could write songs for people, didn't know that was a job — I really didn't know you could be in country music and be gay," he said, getting choked up as the audience responded with cheers of support.
"When I came out to my mom, she was so scared that I wouldn't get this dream, that this wouldn't happen for me. And this town has never for a minute made me feel anything but loved and supported," McAnally added. He concluded his speech by acknowledging his husband, Michael Baum, crediting him for dreaming as big as the star himself.
"He tells me every day that I can do anything," McAnally said, thankfully. "And we are living our truth and our dream with our children and our life."
Watch Caylee Hammack's Live Performance of "Family Tree"
On the Red Carpet and Inside the 2019 ACM Honors: