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No other genre throws a celebration like country music and it’s no surprise that Keith Urban is usually at the top of any list of performers. The multiple ACM and CMA Award honoree charges up the passion for music and the performing life with his contagious new anthem, “Wild Hearts” and now joins the roster for the 2021 ACM Honors, as confirmed by MSN per Billboard and The Music Universe.
The more the merrier is a characteristic mantra for every musical event in Nashville. Notably, this year’s 14th ACM Honors makes a definitive effort toward inclusion and appreciation of diversity across country music. In that vein, Keith Urban needs no tutoring. With songwriting and his guitar wizardry, the prolific “Polaroid” artist filled this pandemic year with collaborations with Breland and Nile Rodgers, Jimmie Allen, and Sam Williams. Last spring, Keith cordially called on Mickey Guyton to be his co-host at the ACM Awards.
For the heady occasion of the ACM Honors, Keith Urban takes the stage again, alongside very familiar faces and names. Country music is mending some hurts and making up for lost time, while still welcoming some beloved stars back to center stage.
Keith Urban savors both the past and the present
As fate and faith go, it’s very likely that the Academy of Country Music takes time to honor singer-songwriter, Tom T. Hall, Don Everly, and ACM executive, Lisa Lee, whose passing was noted by Country Music Alley days ago. Country music preserves its traditions of paying tribute to its stars and the people behind them. In a fond recollection, Keith Urban relates “My second concert (at the age of 5) was Tom T. Hall.”
In agreement with musical peers Jason Isbell, Luke Bryan, and Travis Tritt, Urban praises Hall as “a gifted literary musical artist.” In his own kind of benediction that Tom T. Hall surely appreciates from celestial realms, Keith Urban closes with “Peace be with all his friends, family, and admirers today. Thank you, Mr. Hall.” From hip-hop vibes and rock ‘n roll edges to the timeless Country classics, it’s music that comes from a passionate heart that matters most to Keith Urban.
A welcoming party, including Keith Urban
Speaking of timeless country music hits, Alan Jackson and Toby Keith have enough of those to their credit to fill an 18-wheeler, much less the halls of the Ryman Auditorium, where the ACM Honors happen this year on August 25. Alan Jackson received a moving reception at the ACM Awards four months back, particularly when he sang the fatherly tribute, “Drive (For Daddy Gene).”
Jackson candidly reveals his mourning since the shocking death of his son-in-law, Ben Selecman, in 2018, just short of a year after marrying Jackson’s oldest daughter, Mattie. It comforts the country legend and doting dad to remember Ben’s reaction to “You’ll Always Be My Baby” from his latest album. As a father of two daughters, Keith Urban already senses the same emotions.
Two kinds of pain
The title of Alan Jackson’s album, Where Have You Gone, released in April, encapsulates not only personal loss but also the loss of country music the way the artist interprets it. The neo-traditionalist sound heralded by the artist is hard to find anymore. Jackson goes so far as to say that country music is “gone” to his mind. Another song on the album is “Back,” as in “I’m bringing Country back,” as the lyric declares. One thing is certain when Alan Jackson sings, an entire chorus of voices, including Keith Urban’s, will echo every word from the same benches that belonged to the church that became the “mother church” of country music.
Without a doubt, fans are hankering to hear Toby Keith’s robust voice from behind a microphone. The “How Do You Like Me Now” racked up endless chart-toppers during his reign. Understandably, Keith earned an artistic respite. However, October sees the release of Peso In My Pocket. A collection of new songs is more than enough to spark a resurgence of Toby Keith spirit, as only he exudes it. Keith Urban won’t feel lonely on ACM Honors night, and neither will country music lovers.
More high honors
Without question, ACM Honors host, Carly Pearce plans to deliver a memorable night of performances, just as Lauren Alaina, Lady A, Jamey Johnson, Ashley McBryde, and the other artists sharing the stage with Keith Urban. As of August 23, rising singer-songwriter sensation, Brittney Spencer, Ronnie Dunn, Trace Adkins claim spots on the roster with Alan Jackson.
The event aims to honor winners of the 55th and 56th ACM Awards together, along with special presentations to commemorate achievement. Loretta Lynn takes a Poets Award honor for her lifetime of earnest honesty and storytelling in song. Toby Keith is set to receive honors with the Merle Haggard Spirit Award, among many other special presentations.
Keith Urban may not leave the Ryman Auditorium with any hardware this time, but the memories and the music from the sacred hall live on forever. His Las Vegas residency awaits, too.
The 2021 ACM Honors live streams on Circle Network’s social channels, and a broadcast airing is slated for November 23 on Circle Network.
Who are the performers you can hardly wait to see live? Country Music Alley keeps you current and clued in on all your favorite artists! Let us hear from you in the comments!