Breland gave the first and one of the most emotional acceptance speeches of the evening during the 2023 ACM Honors on Monday night (Sept. 18).
The country singer and rapper paid tribute not only to those who came before him, but also his contemporaries and peers when he took the stage to accept the inaugural Lift Every Voice Award.
Introduced by Urban, who called him “an inspiration,” the excited young star smiled wide as he took the mic, thanking God and his peers, his family and his team, before noting:
I would be remiss in accepting an award like this — the first of its kind — without acknowledging the Black railroad workers who taught Jimmie Rodgers to play the banjo … Rufus “Tee Tot” Payne who taught Hank Williams the blues … DeFord Bailey who was the first Black artist to make it into the Grand Ole Opry … the great Charley Pride, Linda Martell, Darius Rucker, Nelly, Kane Brown, the War and Treaty … the list goes on!
The voices in the margins of country music have never wanted anything radical — all we have ever wanted is a chance.
Breland also hit the stage with Keith Urban at the top of the broadcast to perform their duet, “Throw It Back,” which appeared on Breland’s 2022 debut album, Cross Country. The pair gave one of the most energetic performances of the night, getting the mostly industry-only crowd hyped up.
Chris Stapleton received the ACM Triple Crown Award at the 2023 ACM Honors, while Kane Brown received the ACM International Award. Troy Vollhoffer accepted the ACM Lifting Lives Award, while Clint Black, Mary Chapin Carpenter and K.T. Oslin (posthumously) received the ACM Poet’s Award. Charlie Daniels received a posthumous ACM Spirit Award. Hardy won Artist-Songwriter of the Year in 2023.
The ACM Service Award, Songwriter of the Year Award and more were also handed out during the event, which Carly Pearce hosted. The 2023 ACM Honors took place at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Aug. 23. The awards will be available to stream via Hulu beginning Tuesday (Sept. 19).
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