Lynn, Combs, Dan + Shay win early ACM honors
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Lynn, Combs, Dan + Shay win early ACM honors

Tuesday, June 15, 2021 – Loretta Lynn, Luke Combs and Dan + Shay are among the special award winners of the Academy of Country Music awards show, it was announced today.

The awards will be handed out Aug. 25 at the Ryman in Nashville. The Academy of Country Music Special Awards are voted on by the ACM Board of Directors for specific achievements

One of the key special honors – the ACM CLIFFIE STONE ICON AWARD – will go to record company executive Joe Galante and Rascal Flatts. This award is presented to a country duo/group or industry leader who throughout their career has advanced the popularity of the genre through their contributions via songwriting, recording, production, touring, film, television, literary works, philanthropic contributions and other goodwill efforts.

Galante elevated country's reach over nearly four decades, beginning in the 1970s when he joined RCA Nashville. In the 1980s as the head of the label, he implemented marketing campaigns, increased promotional budgets and signed artists such as Alabama, Clint Black, The Judds, K.T. Oslin and Keith Whitley. In the 90s, the label group under his leadership guided Kenny Chesney and Martina McBride to multiplatinum success. When RCA and Arista merged, the roster expanded to include Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson and Brad Paisley. Under his continued leadership, RCA Label Group evolved to Sony Music Nashville, launching the career of Carrie Underwood and furthering that of Miranda Lambert. Galante concluded his label career in 2010 as chairman of Sony Music Nashville, but has remained part of the music community, perhaps most notably in his many philanthropic endeavors (as chair of the CMA Foundation, in his support of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and by creating an endowment for Leadership Music, where he is a member of the Founding Council).

Rascal Flatts has won seven consecutive ACM Awards (2002-2008) for Vocal Group of the Year, the only band to earn that distinction. Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney were playing gigs in Nashville's Printer's Alley prior to breakout hits like "Praying for Daylight" and "I'm Movin' On," the 2002 ACM Song of the Year. Singles such as "What Hurts the Most" and "Life Is a Highway" crossed over to pop radio and they accepted an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry in 2011.

ACM Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award - Lady A and Ross Copperman. This award is presented to a country artist, duo/group or industry professional who is devoted to improving lives through music, has a generosity of spirit and is committed to serving others, voted on by the ACM Lifting Lives Board of Directors.

Lady A has a history of consistently participating in ACM Lifting Lives events and fundraisers, at times assuming hosting duties. The group made a long-lasting impression at the ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp in 2019. Campers collaborated with the band, Ross Copperman and Joy Williams to write an original song, "The Way You Love," based on their own experiences and inspirations.

Copperman is a songwriter and producer. He visited campers during the 12th Annual ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp with Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. Copperman wrote Darius Rucker's "Beers and Sunshine" and Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani's "Happy Anywhere" and "Nobody But You

ACM GENE WEED MILESTONE AWARD – Luke Combs. This award is presented for a specific, unprecedented or outstanding achievement in the field of country music during the preceding calendar year.

ACM Jim Reeves International Award – Dan + Shay. The award is for outstanding contributions to the acceptance of country throughout the world.

The duo broadened their audience with a sold-out 2019 UK tour and a sold-out Australian takeover with superstar Shawn Mendes. They built that international following through UK tour stops in 2016 and 2017.

ACM Mae Boren Axton Service Award RAC Clark. This is awarded in recognition of years of dedication and service to the ACM.

Clark, the president and Emmy nominated executive producer of Lion's Heart Entertainment, has produced the ACM Awards since 1999. Under his tenure, the show moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to Dallas for the 50th anniversary, where it set a Guinness world record for the highest attendance at an awards show broadcast with 70,252 attendees at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on April 19, 2015.

Merle Haggard Spirit Award - Toby Keith. This award is presented to a singer-songwriter who is continuing the legacy of country legend and 20-time ACM Award winner Merle Haggard by following his/her own path, crafting great songs and epitomizing Merle's spirit through genuine performances and great storytelling.

ACM Poet's Award - Loretta Lynn, Gretchen Peters and Curly Putman (posthumously). This award is presented to a songwriter for 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.

Peters gained Nashville's attention in the 1990s with compositions like Patty Loveless' "You Don't Even Know Who I Am" (an ACM Song of the Year nominee) and George Strait's "Chill of an Early Fall." Early in her career, Martina McBride achieved signature hits with Peters' "My Baby Loves Me" and "Independence Day."

Putman composed numerous enduring classics in the country canon, including Dolly Parton's "Dumb Blonde," Porter Wagoner's "Green Green Grass of Home," also recorded by pop icon Tom Jones and turned into an international hit, recorded in several languages, as well as George Jones' signature hit "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

Tex Ritter Award - Ken Burns's "Country Music." This award recognizes an outstanding television movie, series or feature film released during the preceding calendar year which prominently features country.

Burns' "Country Music" focused on the rich history of the genre from the artists and historians in an eight-part, 16 hour series.

ACM Songwriter of the Year Award - Hillary Lindsey. This award is presented to an individual known predominately as a songwriter, selected by judges composed of songwriters, publishers, producers, and performing rights organization representatives.

Lindsey has 27 number 1 songs under her belt, she has crafted material for artists ranging from Miranda Lambert to Lady Gaga. She won her third GRAMMY in 2020 for co-writing "I'll Never Love Again" for "A Star Is Born."  Her recent credits include Jordan Davis' "Almost Maybes", Kelsea Ballerini's "Hole In The Bottle," HARDY featuring Lauren Alaina & Devin Dawson's "One Beer," Mickey Guyton's "Heaven Down Here" and Luke Bryan's back-to-back number one singles "What She Wants Tonight" and "Knockin' Boots." This is her second consecutive win for ACM Songwriter of the Year.

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