special_awards

2014 Special Award Winners

Career Achievement Award:

Toby Keith and Ronnie Milsap have been chosen to receive the Career Achievement Award, which is presented to an individual artist, duo, group or multiple artist collaboration who have advanced the popularity and acceptance of country music through their endeavors in the entertainment industry in multiple areas during the preceding calendar year.

showing moments Toby Keith has been riding high ever since his 1993 debut single, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy.” The Oklahoma native took the reins in 1999 by switching record labels and releasing the bold album, How Do You Like Me Now? Since that time, he’s won ACM Awards for Entertainer of the Year (2002, 2003), Male Vocalist of the Year (2000, 2003), Album of the Year (2000, 2003) and Video of the Year (2003, 2011). In addition to his 20 No. 1 country singles, he’s enhanced his unmistakable brand through movie roles (Beer For My Horses) and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill restaurants. Since 2002, Keith has performed on 11 USO tours in 21 countries, including Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.


showing moments 2 Ronnie Milsap brought a pop and R&B sensibility to country music in the 1970s and 1980s, even as his rich, clear voice rang true as country. Forty years ago, the North Carolina native marched to No. 1 with “Pure Love,” paving the way for a total of 49 Top 10 hits on Billboard’s country chart. He won his first ACM Award as the 1982 Male Vocalist of the Year. Three years later, “Lost in the Fifties (In the Still of the Night)” claimed Song of the Year. Milsap received the 2001 Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award and will release a new album in March.



Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award:

showing moments Bob Beckham has been chosen to receive the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award, honoring individuals who are pioneers in the country music genre.

Bob Beckham is remembered as a true music fan who took chances on unknown songwriters. Beckham was hired by Fred Foster at Combine Music in 1964. In time, its catalog grew to include Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” as well as Chris Gantry’s “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife” and Dennis Linde’s “Burning Love.” Beckham also nurtured the talent of Larry Gatlin, Jerry Reed, Ray Stevens and many more. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame recognized him with the inaugural Mentor Award in 2008. Beckham died in 2013.



Crystal Milestone Award:

showing momentsMerle Haggard has been chosen to receive the Crystal Milestone Award, which is given to an artist or industry leader to commemorate a specific, remarkable achievement.

Merle Haggard became the ACM’s first Entertainer of the Year when the award was presented for 1970. That win marked the Academy’s first Triple Crown achievement, as Haggard had already accepted the Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year award for 1965 and the first of six Male Vocalist of the Year awards the following year. Two of his most celebrated songs have also collected Single Record and Song of the Year awards from the ACM: “Okie From Muskogee” (1969) and “Are the Good Times Really Over” (1982). A winner of the ACM Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award and Poet’s Award, Haggard joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994. In 2014, he will celebrate the milestone of 50 years in country music.

Gene Weed Special Achievement Award:

showing moments 2 Carrie Underwood has been chosen to receive the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award, which acknowledges unprecedented, unique and outstanding individual achievement in country music.

Carrie Underwood represents country music with class, whether she’s dazzling viewers of NFL Sunday Night Football or starring in a live broadcast of The Sound of Music. Her Blown Away Tour traveled to London’s Royal Albert Hall, followed by extensive dates across the U.S. and Canada. Upon completing the tour, she donated $1 million to the American Red Cross for disaster relief. She continues to support her hometown of Checotah, Okla., through her C.A.T.S. Foundation. Underwood is a rare ACM Triple Crown recipient, following wins as New Female Vocalist of the Year (2005), Female Vocalist of the Year (2006, 2007, 2008) and Entertainer of the Year (2008, 2009).

Jim Reeves International Award:

Steve Buchanan and Rascal Flatts have been chosen to receive the Jim Reeves International Award, which is presented to an artist for outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country music throughout the world. 

showing moments Steve Buchanan strives to provide a gateway for fans around the globe to discover country music. A Tennessee native, Buchanan is the president of the Opry Entertainment Group. In that role, he has positioned the Grand Ole Opry to be viewed as a vital, world-class tourist destination that embraces contemporary and classic artists. After the Nashville flood of 2010, he led efforts to modernize the venue during its renovation. In addition, his executive producer role for ABC’s Nashville gives insight to the inner workings of Music Row. He is currently working on mounting a Broadway show based on the long-running TV show Hee Haw.

showing moments 2Rascal Flatts carried their high-energy Live & Loud Tour to Europe in July 2013, enjoying sold-out crowds, widespread television exposure and significant digital sales. The group performed a total of seven shows across Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Along with packed houses, the trio appeared on BBC’s Breakfast TV and grabbed the No. 1 spot on the UK iTunes country chart. They will return in March to Dublin and London as part of the all-star Country to Country 2014 event. Rascal Flatts will launch their Rewind Tour this spring, with dates scheduled throughout the U.S. and Canada.


Mae Boren Axton Award:

showing momentsPaul Moore has been chosen to receive the Crystal Milestone Award, which is given to an artist or industry leader to commemorate a specific, remarkable achievement.

Paul Moore has been an integral part of the William Morris team in Nashville for more than 35 years. He began his career there in 1978 as a secretary to the head of the office. In time, he became part of the management team for William Morris and later William Morris Endeavor. For 23 years, he was co-head of the agency’s Nashville office. He remains involved in booking concert dates for WME clients at major fairs, rodeos, outdoor events and festivals, and oversees tour commitments for numerous country legends. Moore is a longtime board member for the Academy of Country Music and currently serves as parliamentarian.

Poet's Award - Living

Kris Kristofferson and Dean Dillon have been selected to receive the Poet’s Award, which honors songwriters for outstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their careers in the field of country music.

showing momentsKris Kristofferson emerged as a songwriting force in the 1970s. He used his widely varied experiences---from Rhodes Scholar to Army helicopter pilot to janitor at Nashville’s Columbia Studios—to craft some of the most emotionally compelling story songs ever written. His composition “For the Good Times,” recorded by Ray Price, received 1970 ACM Awards for Single Record and Song of the Year. In addition to solo success with “Why Me,” Kristofferson’s songs have been immortalized by Johnny Cash (“Sunday Morning Coming Down”), Janis Joplin (“Me and Bobbie McGee”), Ronnie Milsap (“Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends”) and Sammi Smith (“Help Me Make It Through the Night”). Born in Texas, Kristofferson joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the ACM Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award in 2005.

showing moments 2Tennessee native Dean Dillon hitchhiked to Nashville to pursue a music career as a recording artist, but he found his biggest successes as a prolific songwriter. He penned hits for George Jones (“Tennessee Whiskey”), Keith Whitley (“Miami My Amy”), Toby Keith (“A Little Too Late”) and Kenny Chesney (“A Lot of Things Different”). Dillon truly found his muse in George Strait, who built his legendary career on Dillon’s unique songs, including his debut single “Unwound” followed by “The Chair,” “Nobody in His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her,” “It Ain’t Cool to Be Crazy About You,” “Ocean Front Property,” “Marina Del Rey” and “If I Know Me” to name a few. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.

Poet's Award - Posthumously

Jack Clement and Buck Owens have been selected, posthumously, to receive the Poet’s Award, which honors songwriters for outstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their careers in the field of country music.

showing moments“Cowboy” Jack Clement’s career stretched back to Sun Records, where the Memphis native mixed 1950s recording sessions by Johnny Cash. Two of Cash’s early hits were written by Clement: “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” and “Guess Things Happen That Way.” A few years later in Texas, George Jones cut Clement’s “A Girl I Used to Know.” In Nashville, Clement opened a publishing company and signed Bob McDill, Allen Reynolds and Don Williams. Clement joined the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in April 2013, four months before his death.

showing moments 2Buck Owens’ boisterous single “Love’s Gonna Live Here” spent an astonishing 16 weeks atop the country airplay chart in 1963. He followed that composition with more original material like “My Heart Skips a Beat,” “Together Again” and “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail,” writing the latter with Harlan Howard. An icon in the Bakersfield, Calif., country scene, Owens received the 1965 ACM Award for Male Vocalist of the Year and his band The Buckaroos won three consecutive ACM trophies. He joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996 and accepted the ACM Pioneer Award in 1988. Owens died in 2006.

2013 Special Awards Winners

2013 Special Award Winners

Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award:

Keith Whitley and The Judds have been chosen to receive the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award, honoring individuals who are pioneers in the country music genre.

showing momentsKeith Whitley brought a blend of traditional bluegrass, classic country and contemporary songwriting influences to his timeless recordings. Although his catalog is regrettably small, this Kentucky native stands as one of the most respected vocalists of his era, thanks to a rich baritone that effortlessly conveyed the emotion of any song. Whitley first entered the Top 10 in 1986 with “Ten Feet Away,” setting the stage for enduring ballads like “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” “When You Say Nothing at All” and “I’m No Stranger to the Rain,” all of which reached No. 1 before Whitley died in 1989 at age 33.

showing moments 2The Judds gave country music an acoustic boost in the 1980s, ultimately racking up 20 Top 10 hits. They picked up seven consecutive ACM Awards in the Vocal Duet category, as well as a Song of the Year trophy for “Why Not Me.” Their winning streak began in 1984 with “Mama He’s Crazy,” the first of 14 No. 1 hits. Fans also identified with the ups and downs of Naomi and Wynonna’s mother-daughter relationship, adding another dimension to modern classics like the nostalgic “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)” and the empowering “Love Can Build a Bridge.”

Past recipients of the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award include Alabama,Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, The Oak Ridge Boys, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Jerry Reed, Tex Ritter, Marty Robbins, Kenny Rogers, Billy Sherrill, Ricky Skaggs, Mel Tillis,Randy Travis, Conway Twitty, Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams, Hank Williams Jr., Bob Wills and Dwight Yoakam, among others.

Crystal Milestone Award:

showing momentsJason Aldean has been chosen to receive the Crystal Milestone Award, which is given to an artist or industry leader to commemorate a specific, remarkable achievement.

Jason Aldean soared to stadium headliner status in 2012. He sold out his first stadium show last year, moving more than 27,000 tickets for Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. All tickets were purchased more than two months in advance. Aldean’s arena show tickets went quickly too. He sold 24,000 tickets in two minutes for his Indianapolis show, along with 20,000 seats in just four minutes in St. Louis. Aldean is now swinging for the rafters with his “Night Train Tour.” Stadium shows on the itinerary include Wrigley Field in Chicago, Sanford Stadium in Athens, GA, and Boston’s Fenway Park—which sold out in seven minutes, setting a venue record and making Aldean the first country act to headline the historic ballpark. The Academy is honoring Aldean for this remarkable achievement.

Past recipients of the Crystal Milestone Award include Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Gayle Holcomb, Jennifer Nettles and Taylor Swift

Gene Weed Special Achievement Award:

showing moments 2Blake Shelton has been chosen to receive the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award, which acknowledges unprecedented, unique and outstanding individual achievement in country music.

Blake Shelton stepped into his role on NBC’s The Voice as a well-known figure in country music circles. Now he’s a household name to millions of viewers who appreciate his lively personality, his honest approach toward aspiring talent and his camaraderie with pop stars like Christine Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine. That broad appeal paved the way for a network special to coincide with his first holiday album, Cheers, It’s Christmas. A three-time ACM Awards co-host, Shelton is climbing the charts with “Sure Be Cool If You Did.” Look for his “Ten Times Crazier Tour” starting in July.

Past recipients of the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award include Garth Brooks, George Burns, Jeff Foxworthy, Willie Nelson and George Strait.

Jim Reeves International Award:

showing moments Lady Antebellum has been chosen to receive the Jim Reeves International Award, which is presented to an artist for outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country music throughout the world. 

Lady Antebellum seized the day with their “Own the Night World Tour,” ultimately performing to more than a million fans in 11 countries and three continents. Along with packing venues in the U.S. and Canada, the trio sold out three shows at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Band members Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott also accepted the honor of opening for a musical hero, Bruce Springsteen, at London’s Hard Rock Calling. A three-time winner in the ACM Vocal Group category, Lady Antebellum will release its fourth studio album, Golden, in May, likely taking their newest hit “Downtown” around the globe.

Past recipients of the Jim Reeves International Award include Garth Brooks, Dick Clark, Roy Clark, Merv Griffin, Alan Jackson, Charlie Nagatani, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, among others. 

Mae Boren Axton Award:

Tommy Wiggins has been chosen as the recipient of the Mae Boren Axton Award, which is given in recognition of years of dedication and service by an outstanding individual to the Academy of Country Music.

Tommy Wiggins co-founded the organization that is now the Academy of Country Music. While pursuing opportunities performing on radio and on stage, Wiggins lived in Tucson and Nashville before relocating in 1960 to Los Angeles, where he appeared on local television shows. Along with releasing several singles on Stadium Records, Wiggins launched a radio industry publication titled D.J.’s Digest. In 1964, he teamed with songwriter Eddie Miller and club owners Mickey and Chris Christensen to stage a Los Angeles-based awards show and form the Country Western Music Academy--later renamed the Academy of Country Music--to draw attention to country artists based on the West Coast.

Past recipients of the Mae Boren Axton Award include John Dorris, Rod Essig, Gayle Holcomb, Jack Lameier, Marge Meoli,Ray Pilzak, Gaynelle Pitts, Gene Weed and David Young.

Poet's Award

Guy Clark and Hank Williams have been selected to receive the Poet’s Award, which honors songwriters for outstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their careers in the field of country music.

showing momentsGuy Clark has earned the respect of countless songwriters by crafting his compositions with wit, wisdom and warmth. This native Texan made a lasting impression with his 1975 debut album Old No. 1. His extensive songwriting catalog includes cuts by Johnny Cash (“Texas 1947”), Kenny Chesney (“Hemingway’s Whiskey”), Rodney Crowell (“She’s Crazy for Leaving”) and Ricky Skaggs (“Heartbroke”). Meanwhile, his own recordings of “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperadoes Waiting for a Train” make listeners feel as though they know him personally. The 2011 collection, This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark, received a Grammy nomination for best folk album.

showing moments 2Hank Williams remains one of the most revered songwriters in history. A native of Alabama, Williams’ commercial style found a champion in music publisher Fred Rose in 1946. Despite a brief career, Williams catalog includes “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Hey Good Lookin’” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” His compositions have been recorded by Tony Bennett, Jimmy Buffett, Norah Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charley Pride, Linda Ronstadt and Hank Williams Jr., among many others. The legendary figure was found dead on Jan. 1, 1953. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 and received the 1973 ACM Pioneer Award. Hank Williams will be inducted posthumously.

Previous recipients of the Poet’s Award include Bill Anderson, Bobby Braddock, Hank Cochran, Merle Haggard, Tom T. Hall, Harlan Howard,Roger Miller, Fred Rose, Don Schlitz and Cindy Walker.

2012 Special Awards Winners

2012 Special Awards Winners

Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award:

Emmylou Harris, Billy Sherrill, Ricky Skaggs and Dwight Yoakam have been chosen to receive the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award honoring individuals who are pioneers in the country music genre.

showing momentsEmmylou Harris brought a graceful delivery, beautiful harmonies and a wealth of exceptional material to her career in country music. Harris was discovered at a nightclub in Washington D.C., then provided her signature vocals to Gram Parsons’ seminal recordings. On her own, she arrived on the country charts in 1975. Over the next decade, she racked up 21 Top 10 singles, including five No. 1 hits. The Trio album with talented friends Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt earned the 1987 ACM Award for Album of the Year. Harris was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

showing moments 2Billy Sherrill produced many of country’s most famous names and wrote numerous classics throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The Alabama native joined Epic Records in 1964, where his credits as both a producer and songwriter included David Houston’s “Almost Persuaded,” Charlie Rich’s “The Most Beautiful Girl” and Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man.” He also served as a producer on George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (which earned Sherrill an ACM Award for Producer of the Year), as well as Johnny Paycheck’s “She’s All I Got” and Tanya Tucker’s “Delta Dawn.” He joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.

showing moments Ricky Skaggs energized country music in the 1980s by taking his traditional sound in a lively new direction. Over that decade, the Kentucky native charted 19 Top 10 singles, including 11 No. 1 hits. Rather than writing his material, he gathered first-rate songs by the likes of Guy Clark, Bill Monroe, Webb Pierce, Mel Tillis and Cindy Walker. He was named the ACM’s 1981 Top New Male Vocalist and received five ACM Awards for Touring Band of the Year. Since that time, Skaggs has focused on bluegrass music and now leads one of the most respected ensembles in the genre.

showing moments 2Dwight Yoakam captured the imagination of traditionalists and new listeners alike by giving hillbilly music a modern twist. Born in Kentucky but based in Los Angeles, Yoakam debuted with a twangy cover of Johnny Horton’s “Honky Tonk Man,” which led him to the ACM’s 1986 Top New Male Vocalist trophy. In all, Yoakam landed 14 Top 10 hits – some he wrote (“I Sang Dixie”) and others he revived (Elvis Presley’s “Little Sister”). Along with acclaimed albums and music videos, Yoakam proudly partnered with Buck Owens on the endearing 1988 duet, “Streets of Bakersfield.” He remains active in music and film.

Past recipients of the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award include Alabama, Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, The Oak Ridge Boys, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Jerry Reed, Tex Ritter, Marty Robbins, Kenny Rogers, Mel Tillis, Randy Travis, Conway Twitty, Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams, Sr., Hank Williams Jr. and Bob Wills, among others.

Crystal Milestone Award:

showing momentsKenny Chesney, four-time ACM Entertainer of the Year, has sold more than 10,500,000 tickets on his 11 national tours, selling out stadiums across the country. His successful shows have promoted the entire genre to delighted fans while helping other country acts and cross-over artists gain exposure nationwide. The Academy is honoring Kenny for this remarkable achievement.

Past recipients of the Crystal Milestone Award include Garth Brooks and Jennifer Nettles.

Career Achievement Award:

showing moments 2Vince Gill has been chosen to receive the Career Achievement Award, which is presented to an individual artist, duo, group or multiple artist collaboration who have advanced the popularity and acceptance of country music through their endeavors in the entertainment industry in multiple areas during the preceding calendar year.

Vince Gill returned to the country scene in 2011 with an appealing new album, Guitar Slinger, and the enthusiastic response proved that he had been missed. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean proclaimed an official Vince Gill Week in conjunction with the album’s release. Gill also served as Grand Marshal of Nashville’s Christmas parade. In addition, Gill and wife Amy Grant graced the cover of Good Housekeeping, while Sting shared the stage with him on an acclaimed CMT Crossroads. Meanwhile, the Country Music Hall of Fame member appeared on multiple talk shows and earned a Grammy nod for “Threaten Me With Heaven.”

Past recipients of the Career Achievement Award include John Anderson, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Johnny Paycheck, Carl Perkins, Reba and Kenny Rogers.

Jim Reeves International Award:

showing moments Alan Jackson has been chosen to receive the Jim Reeves International Award, which is presented to an individual for outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country music throughout the world.

Alan Jackson’s down-home music and laidback personality has translated well internationally. He played for eager audiences in Sweden and Norway in August 2011, brought back by popular demand following his 2009 shows. Jackson’s album, Good Time, has also earned platinum sales in Norway. Jackson also toured Australia for the first time in March 2011. He’ll play four arena shows in Canada in April 2012, as well as a summer concert at the Craven Country Jamboree in Saskatchewan. Jackson won his first ACM Award as 1990’s Top New Male Vocalist, an honor that coincided with career-building tour dates in the UK and Germany.

Past recipients of the Jim Reeves International Award include Garth Brooks, Dick Clark, Roy Clark, Merv Griffin, Charlie Nagatani, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, among others.

Mae Boren Axton Award:

Gayle Holcomb has been chosen as the recipient of the Mae Boren Axton Award, which is given in recognition of years of dedication and service by an outstanding individual to the Academy of Country Music.

showing moments 2Gayle Holcomb, a country music industry leader at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, has served as an Academy of Country Music board member for 17 years and five years as ACM chairman. During her tenure as chair, Holcomb was a driving force for the organization’s rapid change and growth, including moving the Awards show from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in 2003. Holcomb helped launch ACM Lifting Lives in 2005, guiding the vision for the charity as it got underway initially, and continuing her support of the organization by becoming chairman. She made the initial endowment to form the ACM Lifting Lives’ Diane Holcomb Emergency Relief Fund, in honor of her mother, to enable the Fund to respond quickly to unforeseen, immediate financial needs of ACM members, staff and members of the country music community.

Past recipients of the Mae Boren Axton Award include John Dorris, Rod Essig, Jack Lameier, Marge Meoli, Ray Pilzak, Gaynelle Pitts, Gene Weed and David Young.

2011 Poet's Award

Bobby Braddock and Roger Miller have been selected to receive the Poet’s Award, which honors songwriters for outstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their careers in the field of country music.

showing momentsBobby Braddock is a master storyteller with more than 40 years of songwriting success. A Florida native, Braddock moved to Nashville in 1964 and worked for a time as Marty Robbins’ piano player. His classic cuts include Tammy Wynette’s divine “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and George Jones’ iconic (and ACM Award-winning) “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” as well as the famous couple’s enduring duet, “Golden Ring.” Braddock also earned ACM nominations as a songwriter for Tracy Lawrence’s “Time Marches On,” Toby Keith’s “I Wanna Talk About Me” and Billy Currington’s “People Are Crazy.” He joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

showing moments 2Roger Miller charmed listeners with characteristic wit on classics like “King of the Road” and “Dang Me.” Miller, an Oklahoma native, grabbed early songwriting success with Ray Price’s “Invitation to the Blues.” In 1985, he earned acclaim for writing the score of the musical Big River. To honor his brilliant career, he received the 1987 ACM Pioneer Award. Miller died in 1992 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1995. Contemporary stars like Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson have kept his legacy alive with terrific renditions of “Husbands and Wives” and “Tall, Tall Trees,” respectively.

Previous recipients of the Poet’s Award include Bill Anderson, Hank Cochran, Merle Haggard, Tom T. Hall, Harlan Howard, Fred Rose, Don Schlitz and Cindy Walker.

2011 Special Awards Winners

2011 Special Awards Winners

2011 Career Achievement Award

Reba has been chosen to receive the Career Achievement Award, which is presented to an individual artist, duo, group or multiple artist collaboration who have advanced the popularity and acceptance of country music through their endeavors in the entertainment industry in multiple areas during the preceding calendar year.

Reba is still going strong in the third decade of a magnificent career and continues to thrive in country music with her winning formula of expressive singing, well-chosen songs and approachable charm. A previous winner in the Entertainer of the Year category, she has won the ACM Female Vocalist award seven times, the most of any artist. In addition, this is her 13th year to host the ACM Awards. Along with actively pursuing opportunities on Broadway, television, film and fashion, Reba remains one of the best-selling country artists in history, with record sales approaching 57 million.

Past recipients of the Career Achievement Award include John Anderson, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Johnny Paycheck, Carl Perkins and Kenny Rogers.

2011 Jim Reeves International Award

Taylor Swift has been chosen to receive the Jim Reeves International Award, which is presented to an individual for outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country music throughout the world.

Taylor Swift has encouraged fans around the world to discover country music. In addition to multiple gold and platinum awards from dozens of countries, Swift has already performed numerous dates in Europe and Asia this year. She is the top-certified artist for digital singles in the last decade. Her multi-platinum certifications include "Love Story," "You Belong With Me," "Teardrops on My Guitar" and "Our Song." Swift will embark on an extensive North American tour in May. Her latest album, Speak Now has sold more than three million copies since its release late last year.

Past recipients of the Jim Reeves International Award include Garth Brooks, Dick Clark, Roy Clark, Merv Griffin, Charlie Nagatani, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton and Keith Urban, among others.

2011 Tex Ritter Film Award

Country Strong has been chosen as the recipient of the Tex Ritter Award, which is given to a movie released and/or receiving major exposure during the preceding calendar year, featuring or utilizing country music.

Country Strong (Produced by Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Entertainment.) is a drama film starring Oscar® winner Gwyneth Paltrow as a country superstar staging a comeback, while two-time ACM male vocalist winner Tim McGraw played her husband and manager. Meanwhile, rising stars Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester portrayed the challenges and rewards of building a career as a performing songwriter. The accompanying soundtrack featured strong performances by the film's four leading characters, along with country stars like Trace Adkins, Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Ronnie Dunn, Patty Loveless, Hank Williams Jr., Lee Ann Womack and Chris Young.

Past recipients of the Tex Ritter Award include Beer For My Horses, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Crazy Heart, O Brother, Where Art Thou, Sweet Dreams and Walk the Line, among others.

2011 Mae Boren Axton Award

John Dorris has been chosen as the recipient of the Mae Boren Axton Award, which is given in recognition of years of dedication and service by an outstanding individual to the Academy of Country Music.

John Dorris launched Hallmark Direction Company in1983 with Don Williams as his first client. Since then, Dorris has worked with numerous country artists, including ACM winners Montgomery Gentry and Blake Shelton. Prior to that enterprise, he established himself at one of Nashville's most successful independent record labels and publishing companies, Monument Records and Combine Music Publishing, aiding the careers of artists like Roy Orbison, Kris Kristofferson, Larry Gatlin, Billy Joe Shaver, Billy Swan and others. A champion of songwriters as well as an expert in tax accounting, he currently serves on the ACM Board of Directors as Treasurer.

Past recipients of the Mae Boren Axton Award include Rod Essig, Jack Lameier, Marge Meoli, Ray Pilzak, Gaynelle Pitts, Gene Weed and David Young.

2011 Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award

Garth Brooks and Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers have been chosen to receive the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award honoring individuals who are pioneers in the country music genre.

Garth Brooks combined an electrifying stage presence with exceptional catalog of songs to become a true country music superstar. Twenty years ago, Brooks conquered the ACM Awards with trophies for Album (No Fences), Single, Song and Video ("The Dance"), Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the year. A six-time winner in that top category, the Oklahoma native was named the ACM's Artist of the Decade for the 1990s, while his ambitious concerts raised the bar for live shows across all genres. With 128 million albums sold, Brooks has earned 19 No. 1 hits, including the iconic "Friends in Low Places."

The close family harmonies of Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers gave this trio a signature sound that led to country classics like "Houston (Means I'm One Day Closer to You)." They won a GRAMMY® for their 1976 breakthrough hit, "Broken Lady," and reached No. 1 with "I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love" two years later. Along with five career nominations for the ACM Vocal Group, the Gatlin Brothers picked up three 1979 trophies - Single ("All the Gold in California"), Album (Straight Ahead) and Male Vocalist for Larry Gatlin, also a talented songwriter who composed all of their singles.

Past recipients of the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award include Alabama, Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, The Oak Ridge Boys, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Jerry Reed, Tex Ritter, Marty Robbins, Kenny Rogers, Mel Tillis, Randy Travis, Conway Twitty, Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams, Sr., Hank Williams Jr. and Bob Wills, among others.

2011 Poet's Award

Tom T. Hall and Hank Cochran have been selected to receive the Poet's Award, which honors songwriters for outstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their careers in the field of country music.

Tom T. Hall With a keen eye on ordinary people, Tom T. Hall has created an extraordinary body of music. His detailed, yet plainspoken, songs have earned him his nickname of "The Storyteller." With a background in local radio and a stint in the Army, the Kentucky native moved to Nashville in 1964. His substantial catalog includes Jeannie C. Riley's "Harper Valley P.T.A." and Alan Jackson's "Little Bitty," as well as 21 of his own Top 10 hits, such as "I Love" and "Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine." He and his wife, Dixie, continue to write for numerous bluegrass artists.

Hank Cochran (1935-2010) A beloved Nashville songwriter for 50 years, Hank Cochran landed memorable cuts with countless classic country artists. The Mississippi native established himself in the 1960s with hits for Eddy Arnold ("Make the World Go Away") and Cline ("She's Got You," "I Fall to Pieces"), among many others. Merle Haggard landed a No. 1 single with "It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad)" while Strait scored instant classics with "The Chair" and "Ocean Front Property." Other favorites from his catalog include Vern Gosdin's "Set 'Em Up Joe" and Keith Whitley's "Miami, My Amy." Cochran died on July 15, 2010.

Previous recipients of the Poet's Award include Bill Anderson, Merle Haggard, Harlan Howard and Fred Rose, Don Schlitz and Cindy Walker.