George Strait, Dolly Parton, Eric Church and Kelsea Ballerini Among ACM Special Award Winners

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George Strait, Dolly Parton, Eric Church, Kelsea Ballerini, Toby Keith, Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson and Shel Silverstein are among the 2017 ACM Special Award honorees.


Each year, the Academy of Country Music awards artists and industry personnel with the awards you don’t see during the ACM Awards. These special awards are voted on by the ACM Board of Directors.

George Strait is being recognized with the Cliffie Stone Icon Award for advancing the popularity of country music.

Dolly Parton has been chosen for the Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award — previously known as the Humanitarian Award — for her devotion to improving lives through the power music, her generosity of spirit and her commitment to serving others.

Kelsea Ballerini is the recipient of the Gene Weed Milestone Award for her outstanding achievement in the field of country music during the preceding calendar year.

Reba McEntire and radio host Bob Kingsley have been slected for the Mae Boren Axton Service Award for their years of dedication and service to the Academy of Country Music.

Eric Church is being recognized with the Merle Haggard Spirit Award for continuing the legacy of the country legend by finding his own path, crafting great songs and “epitomizing Merle’s spirit through genuine performances and great storytelling.”

Toby Keith, Willie Nelson and the late Shel Silverstein have been chosen as this year’s Poet’s Award winners for their “outstanding and longstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their career, with special consideration given to a song or songs’ impact on the culture of country music.”

“Nashville” has been chosen for the Tex Ritter Film Award for prominently featuring country music.

Additionally, Lori McKenna’s previously announced Songwriter of the Year award will be presented during the 11th Annual ACM Honors ceremony.

ACM Honors will tape in August and air on CBS at a later date.